Who is worse Trump or Modi
Before the US elections: Donald Trump is not as bad as many think
Donald Trump has done a lot of damage in the past few years. It showed how fragile democracies are. But Trump's presidency shows something else as well.
Polls or polls: Donald Trump will be voted out of office next Tuesday. Yes, US election polls are notoriously unreliable. Yes, Hillary Clinton was considered the inevitable winner of the presidential election until Election Day 2016. And yet: If Donald Trump were to be re-elected with all the knowledge from the past four years, we would have to realize that anyone - even a robot, a mirage or a rag doll - could be elected. I simply cannot and will not believe that in the 21st century.
Some consider Donald Trump to be the most unsympathetic person in the world. Not me. That would be too much of an honor. In four years of retrospect, it is as intangible as clouds of fog. Trump stands for everything and nothing. He has few principles and, as a result, little to no scruples. His actions are light years away from strategic thinking; they are controlled by coincidences and impulses.
He just stumbles in everywhere, sometimes he has positive effects like the rapprochement between Israel and the Arab states, sometimes existentially negative things like the fight against the climate crisis. Donald Trump accidentally stumbled into his office despite his own efforts. In the summer of 2016, he would not have given a cent to actually become president.
Nobody really likes him
As a person, Donald Trump is a tragic figure for whom I can definitely feel sympathy. Nobody seems to love Donald Trump, nobody stays in his environment for long, everyone apparently only sees him as his function and its personal benefit. It's sad for him. But Donald Trump is not a monster. He doesn't embody "evil" in the world - how should he if he doesn't stand for anything? As a human being, one can only wish him that he might someday find the inner peace that each of us longs for.
But fate has made Donald Trump President of the United States of America, and he will have to be judged as such. Large brooms are needed to sweep up the shards that he has left behind in all areas of his work. America should just not make the widespread mistake of believing that simply voting out Donald Trump and his administration would bring everything back to normal. Rather, the reappraisal of his term of office has to detach itself from him as a person - for the reasons mentioned. Much more decisive are - as is so often the case in history - all those who first made it what it is not.
Trump is primarily a projection screen
The President Donald Trump is first and foremost a projection screen for his supporters, who see him as the champion of "white supremacy" like the Stephen Bannons of the country, sometimes the QAnon heroes like the Roseanne Barrs, sometimes the top businessman and Dealmakers like the Peter Thiels. The primary problem is not the projection surface, but precisely those who are projecting something onto it. The "Republican Party" therefore belongs at the center of criticism and reappraisal, which, in pursuit of political profit, supported everything that came from Donald Trump: from the Muslim Ban to the appointment of Amy Barrett.
At the center of criticism and reappraisal also belong the common people who don't care what Donald Trump says, thinks or does. After four years of Lies Without Borders, we know that the incumbent President of the United States could publicly commit a crime, they would still re-elect him. Why do they do that? Why do they stand behind a person so unconditionally? In history, nations have often enough made the mistake of declaring their leaders to be guilty after political catastrophes and leaving their willing helpers in the people out of the process.
Other democracies must not feel safe
For many liberal states in the world, Donald Trump will be a textbook example that shows how important it is to fight for democracy - no matter where in the world. Democratic societies need to be vigilant and act early enough when someone lays hands on their achievements. In Poland or Hungary it could be almost too late.
Anti-democratic politics must face headwinds from bourgeois and liberal forces from the start. They are encouraged to take action against their instinctive conviction of "living and letting go". If even the oldest continuously democratic country in the world can overturn, there is nowhere to feel democratic security.
President Donald Trump, "the most powerful man in the world", has been the best teacher in this regard. His lessons have been terribly painful for us, but if we learn from them never to abandon the ideals of freedom and equality for all people, even with someone like him at the helm, then there has been something good about his tenure in the end.
Peace and freedom cannot be taken for granted
In the history of mankind, doom is a constant: the absence of peace and freedom is the normal state of the world. Germany has lived on an island of the blissful since 1949, historically this is a tiny moment. This moment is fragile and how long it will last is up to us. Again, Donald Trump left us a lesson. He taught us how important it is to put yourself in other people's shoes: simply because you can't.
Successful social policy in the sense of peaceful coexistence can only work if I am able to show empathy for others: I have to take the white middle class in the USA, who no longer feel that they are being noticed, as seriously as the feelings of African-Americans. As an Azerbaijani, I have to understand the existential fears of Armenians just as much as, as an Israeli, the suffering of many Palestinians. The concerns of secular and non-denominational Germans are no less valuable than those of religious people.
Many people do not want to allow nuances
Unfortunately, too many fellow citizens are not always able to do this - especially not if they are affected themselves. You don't have to be either. As Erich Fromm once taught, many people have a pronounced authoritarian character. That means: They prefer to command and be commanded. You want black or white. No nuances. No differentiation. Either someone is for them or someone is against them. First of all, there is no negative or positive evaluation in this, just a description of the current situation.
Merkel in an initial reception center for refugees: In September 2015, the Chancellor proved that she is empathetic. (Archive image) (Source: Christian Thiel / imago images)
From this, however, follows: In democracies, people who bear responsibility should be able to feel empathy. When Angela Merkel began to understand the suffering of refugees in 2015 in the face of the tears of the then 13-year-old Reem Sahwil, she drew the abysmal hatred of some, but won all the more hearts in the middle of society: So where that Destiny of a country is determined. In the 15th year of her term in office, Angela Merkel is still the most popular politician in Germany.
Democracies can cope with a historical error
If we ever lose our democracy, it will be because we have previously allowed representatives of particular interests to hijack the center. The fate of a country is not necessarily sealed with the rise of a divisor to power; a historical fallacy like the election of Donald Trump can happen. It is only too late if we let the elected have their way in office and did not engage in tough opposition from the start.
The most important instrument for this is freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Even if it sometimes hurts us because statements contradict our own ideas, we must always defend it now and at all times. Only it gives us the opportunity to attack other opinions and attitudes of others.
Trump's rise strengthened populists around the world
The deselection of Donald Trump in the coming week now promises worldwide tailwind for further tasks of this kind. Just as he once influenced Europe's political landscape with his rise (think of Brexit, AfD, FPÖ, PiS, Fidesz, Lega or Front National) and in the The rest of the world strengthened authoritarian aspirations (think of Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, Rodrigo Duterte, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Recep Erdogan), and the sealing of his resignation next week should have an equivalent effect.
Populists create more problems and less security. Should the unlikely event occur that Donald Trump is not voted out, then ... No! I don't want to think about that anymore. I would have to do that at this point next week.
Lamya Kaddor is German with Syrian roots. In her column "Zwischenentöne", the Islamic scholar, Islamic religious educator and publicist, who is a member of the Greens, analyzes the topics of Islam and migration for t-online. The views expressed in the article reflect the opinion of the author and do not necessarily correspond to those of the t-online editorial team.
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