In the middle of a revolt and civil unrest after the assassination of another African-American citizen by the police, after failing to provide leadership and national management in the worst pandemic in decades, Donald Trump called a press conference two days ago where he only talked about China... It is one of the best illustrations of national-populism that one could find. For a national-populist leader, it is imperative to find a scapegoat, especially when problems escalate and one does not have a solution, nor the will to look for one.
Of course, Trump is much worse than a national-populist, but the nationalist and populist components are key dimensions of the catastrophe that is unfolding in front of everybody. These components are the foundation on which he can build worse things such as the contempt for institutions, conventions, the media or democratic rivals, or the potential refusal to admit defeat if he loses the November presidential election, as suggested by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.
National-populists have no passion for honest government. In fact, they do not govern at all. As Robert Reich has argued in an article in The Guardian, Donald Trump is not governing: his divisive tweets are no substitute for government.
Riots do not develop out of thin air, everybody knows this in general, and in the US in particular in the context of racial discrimination. But in these days of discord, the US president fans the flames, instead of providing leadership and calm. Trump even threatened White House protesters with "vicious dogs and ominous weapons." All this is very disturbing, and all decent people in the world should desire that it ends in November. For it to end, I believe it is also better that any kind of violence ends, even if violence is understandable from those that suffer violence and that see for ages no response to their non-violent protest. But violent protest will make it easier to resort to a "law and order" rhetoric, which is probably the only hope that Trump has to have any chance of winning the November election. When the other party cheats in a contract, it is wrong and counter-productive to do the same, the only hope comes from restoring the institutions of a decent social contract and make them work in favor of deep reforms.
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