How serious is the Trump Derangement Syndrome

Donald Trump: Everything totally awesome?

If Donald Trump's presidency is over with this election, it will end in one of the biggest crises of the past decades, and not just because of the corona pandemic. He left his successor a deeply divided nation - politically and socially.

But is Trump himself the reason for this massive split or just a symptom? The "foundations of civil society" had already crumbled before Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, it said in a recent comment New York Times. Under his leadership, however, the nation "has become more polarized, paranoid and mean".

When Trump, real estate mogul and ingenious self-marketer, was elected 45th US President in 2016, contrary to most forecasts, the world rubbed its eyes in amazement. Few had actually expected that the politically inexperienced would win the race. Not even Trump himself.

Drain the swamp

It was primarily those voters who had previously been politically disinterested and disaffected and who had the feeling that Washington was ignoring the realities of their lives who brought him there. "Drain the swamp!" - Trump's fans still roar his slogan at the top of their throats.

And he himself has never given up the angry, supposed fight against the "establishment" to which the offspring of a successful building contractor belongs. His sharpest weapon: Twitter. There Trump hands out, ends the careers of critics with a single toxic tweet, communicates past the institutions, shows understanding for violence or right-wing extremist groups, and fuels polarization.

The fact that he systematically interferes with the tone is part of the concept. The fans love him for it; The white underclass, in particular, was fed up with "political correctness" and moral regulations from the left.

Disruptive factors

The initial confidence that the "adults" in Trump's team - experienced professional politicians in the ranks of the Republicans - would steer Trump on his way turned out to be simply wrong.

Former TV star who appeared in The apprentice the phrase "You're fired!" as a trademark, soon set about removing disobedient employees, members of the government and civil servants, placing family members and loyal colleagues in central advisory positions.

In line with his self-image as business boss, "dealmaker" and "very stable genius", Trump managed the USA like a (family) company. Democratic rules of the game, the system of "checks and balances" established by the US constitution, were disruptive factors.

Trump therefore spoke of a "witch hunt" when he was confronted in 2019 - only the third president in US history - with impeachment proceedings from the democratically dominated House of Representatives. An anonymous whistleblower had revealed that Trump had urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi to get him campaign ammunition against his challenger Joe Biden.

Impeachment thrown out

The charge: abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The Democrats still see as proven that Trump made the release of military aid to Kiev conditional on the announcement of such investigations. The impeachment failed in the Republican-dominated Senate, which made the wall for him.

Trump staged his acquittal in February of this year as a great victory and again successfully portrayed himself as a victim of "fake news". A narrative that often caught on, whether in the affair of the alleged interference by Russia in the 2016 election, hush money payments to a porno -Star or the dispute over the publication of financial records.

For right-wing conservatives, the Trump years until the outbreak of the Corona crisis were the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream. Trump's law-and-order policy, for example in the event of unrest in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, was popular. Many Trumpians even see his mismanagement during the Corona crisis and his illness as a sign of strength.

Promises kept

Following the doctrine of "America first", Trump was able to keep some campaign promises. There is no wall with Mexico, but 725 kilometers of the border should be re-fortified by the end of the year, undermining numerous nature conservation laws. The government was also able to restrict illegal immigration through agreements with South American states.

The negative climax of this zero tolerance policy, which is unusual for the USA: the cruel practice from 2018 of separating migrant families from their children on the border with Mexico. Only after six weeks did the ghost end because of massive criticism. Hundreds of children are still not back with their parents. In the current election campaign, immigration was not an issue for a long time, it was only picked up in the final TV duel last week.

The healthcare reform of his predecessor Barack Obama was and is a thorn in Trump's side. To this day, however, he failed to come up with a concrete alternative plan to "Obamacare", an initial approach to health insurance for everyone. After the election, the US Supreme Court will decide whether Obamacare is constitutional.

It is undisputed that the US economy grew in the first three years of the Trump presidency. The promise to "eliminate" US debt within eight years remained a promise. Instead, the debt increased even before the Corona crisis. The 2017 tax reform, the most extensive in decades, turned out to be a blessing, especially for large companies, and also had an impact on unemployment figures before the labor market collapsed due to the corona.

Not bad deals

In terms of foreign policy, Trump's balance sheet remains rather piecemeal. Its contribution to Israel's rapprochement with the Arab world is undisputed, but no one can say yet how stable it will be. Much else was purely staged: for example, the attempt to end the Ice Age with North Korea.

In the area of ‚Äč‚Äčtrade and security, the president consistently implemented his America-first doctrine, terminated treaties and agreements such as the Iran Agreement and the central disarmament treaties of the last few decades. Trump's line of argument is similar in all cases: the contracting parties would defraud the United States. Trump makes it clearer to the NATO countries than any US president before that security cannot be had without consideration.

In any case, the 45th President has put a conservative stamp on the judiciary - for decades: almost 200 of 792 federal judges have been appointed under him. And with Amy Coney Barrett, Trump alone was able to appoint three Supreme Court justices.

Incidentally, the Supreme Court could soon play an important role in US history: namely, if Trump sends his lawyers to torpedo a possibly "unsuitable" election result. (Manuela Honsig-Erlenburg, October 31, 2020)