At the time of writing there is still a couple of weeks until the US election and now it seems clear Clinton will win. But phew, that was a close call. There is still some >40% of the Americans that prefer Trump. How come such backward values became so embraced by so many? When Jeb Bush is the voice of reason you should worry. Sorry to bother with another text on the backwardness – like yours truly you might be tired of the broad reporting in the liberal media of crazy Deliverance-like Trump supporters. But let’s take a trip back to the 1800s and recap a couple of the dominant ideas of the GOP nominee this year.
Xenophobia and racism: Trump and even more so his supporters think less of “others”, i.e. non-WASPs and immigrants from outside Europe, such as Muslims, who are basically to be viewed as terrorists. Trump said he would implement “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. Logically, Trump got the endorsement of The Crusader, the official Ku Klux Klan newspaper. No other media house has endorsed Trump. And then we have the wall separating US and Mexico. Obviously we’ve learned nothing.
Then there is the Trump promise to renew the unrenewable. Trump’s warm feelings for oil, gas and mining, and the investment in their revitalisation, has won him a few voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio and in the old-school energy sector – although oil and gas workers have donated much more to Clinton than to Trump. He’s rejected the idea of a climate change, suggesting it’s a hoax, and he said he would cancel the Clean Power Plan and the Climate Action Plan, introduced by Obama. We need to think about and be cautious with political correctness, but this just has to be a joke. And the US have fantastic opportunities if they shift their industrial focus to the “smart” and the “sustainable”, away from fossil.
I’ve occasionally been convinced Trump’s campaign was just a big prank, orchestrated in tandem by Clinton and Trump. They’ve held up a mirror to the American nation and asked if they like what they see. But that joke isn’t funny anymore, as so many voters still stand by Donald. Tom Wolfe wrote, in a short story in 2000, that the American society had become a more prominent civilisation than Europe, apart from in one area.
“In the year 2000 […] American superiority in all matters of science, economics, industry, politics, business, medicine, engineering, social life, social justice, and, of course, the military was total and indisputable. […] America had shown the world the way in every area save one. In matters intellectual and artistic, she remained an obedient colony of Europe.”
Wolfe had a point and things have been going down hill for America since then. But we Europeans should just keep quiet anyway, with our history, we’ve done all of the above and a bit more over the centuries. Perhaps it’s the Americans’ turn now to go structurally bananas.