Sunday, March 6, 2016

Donald Trump as a warning

The prospect of Donald Trump really competing for the presidency of the most powerful country in the world is scaring. Almost nobody believes that he can win, and even if he wins, one expects the institutions of the USA to be strong enough to make the experience a historical anecdote. However, the fact that he may become one of the two candidates with chances to become president is worrying enough. I have been curious to follow his speeches in rallies and his agressive behavior in debates. He combines a permanent use of apparently common sense arguments with unstoppable outrageous comments about religious and ethnic minorities that would be unacceptable in any civilized democracy. We are told that his objective is to mobilize the white working class. Beyond sheer racism, he rides two waves that are common in contemporary democracies: anti-politics and nationalism. Some observers have commented that those high rank Republicans that are now scared about the phenomenon should reflect about how their party has been feeding stereotypes and prejudices (on which Trump draws today) to defeat the Democrats for decades. Even the media should reflect about how it has contributed to the anti-politics rhetoric (what is the alternative to politicians, the military?) and to nationalism in a world that is increasingly interconnected. In a competitive media landscape, under pressure from the Internet and social media, more than one traditional newspaper or radio succumbs to the temptation of making concessions to the meanest of populisms. In Europe we see it everyday. If we were to elect a European president one day (something I deem desirable) perhaps we would also have the surprise of one Boris Johnson, one Berlusconi or something even worse runing as a credible candidate. If we want to protect ourserlves from this prospect it is better to stop making concessions to anti-political rhetoric and to nationalism.

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