Whatever you think of Donald Trump, you will have to admit: ever since he decided to run for president of the United States, things are moving at a pace that was deemed impossible until that point in time. Whether his decision resulted from a bet, a joke or a could-I-pull-this-off question we will never know. But it has become quite obvious that he did not really consider in any detail what the actual consequences (for himself, the United States, and the world) would be should the crazy endeavour really (perhaps ‘really, really’ instead of just ‘really’ would be more appropriate here, given the context) succeed.
Ever since Trump made it to the headlines on daily basis, he has been influencing voting outcomes all through the western world – not always in the way he and the team behind him intended, but that is not the point. First there was the Brexit referendum. Given the facts that the result was quite close and that Trump made some very (I mean very, very) polarizing comments on the topic, it is not unreasonable to state that the effect of the Trump comments and tweets might have been the actual factor that made the pendulum swing just enough to the Leave camp. This was obviously a result the Trump team will have liked, also because it might had led to a number of people starting to believe that seemingly impossible results in elections turn out to be quite possible in the end – even if all the leading polls are predicting the opposite. Another intended result was Trump’s own election as president of the United States. No matter how much (perfectly justified) critique you might have on the fact that Hilary Clinton ended up with no less than 3 million votes more than Trump, it is completely irrelevant as an argument. The Trump campaign mastered the rules of the game perfectly and won the election in a democratic way – let’s just hope that a future US administration decides to change those rules.
From what we have witnessed during the first few days after the US election, one thing is clear to me: Trump himself did not expect to win; and had therefore not bothered to make a decent plan. By the time he took over the oval office from Barack Obama, his team had been able to come up with some things already, but the first few months of the Trump administration have shown that those proposals are not necessarily realistic/legal/well thought through (most of them: all 3).
And that is when the unintended results began to pop up – which lead me to become a Trump fan (not of the person Donald J. Trump – and certainly not of the ideas he represents – in the literal sense of course, but rather of the effects his administration has on the geopolitical situation, especially in Europe). The entire world could witness how the Trump team that had clearly mastered the rules on how to win the US presidential election, has not in the least part mastered the rules of the game called ‘rule the country and get new policy approved by a majority in congress and the other democratic institutions’. Instead of radiating power and strength, the US presidency is now increasingly becoming the world’s laughing stock. Whereas in the western world, Obama was seen as a moral leader, Trump is more and more looked upon as a ridiculous clown.
And it looks like this has started to dissuade voters in several elections in Europe to vote for candidates who have adopted the Trumpish sloganesque style of campaigning – given the real life evidence that transforming those pre-election slogans into post-election reality is simply not happening. First in the Netherlands, where Geert-would-you-like-more-or-less-Moroccans-Wilders’ PVV did not become the biggest party, as some polls had suggested. Then Macron got elected in France, and i’m quite sure that Angela Merkel will win the German elections in September, proving in the process that using slogans as such is not the problem, as long as they are not just hollow phrases – compare the uniting ‘Wir schaffen das’ with the dividing ‘Build that wall’.
Even more importantly: for the first time in ages there is a pro-EU atmosphere in Europe. The effect of the Brexit and Trump’s attitide has been that the other 27 have started moving into the direction of more, not less Europe, also because they are finally rid of the member that was continually blocking any substantial progress. Even new domains where more European integration might be a good idea are being taken into consideration.
On a side note: on top of that, the effect of Brexit in the UK has been a bitter defeat for Theresa May, who called the elections not because elections were due as part of the democratic political system, but because of tactical reasons: the polls said the Tories would gain a lot by having elections at that point in time – and so May, in spite of having vehemently claimed several times not to have any plans to call for early elections, did exactly that. Newsflash to all politicians who do not yet realize: a democratic majority of the people are fed up with politicians that engage in this kind of political games and calculation instead of just doing their job: making the country, where the people live that elected them, a better place for all of the people living in it.
So the total net effect of Trump for Europe is that he has caused things to move in the right direction. The question remains what the total net effect of Trump will be for the United States. He has won the election with the catchphrase ‘America first’, but it has become clear that this was more of a marketing claim, and that ‘Money first’ is the driving force – businessman Trump being a perfect example of the anglosaxon model where money is the only real measure that counts. More and more, the rest of the world is taking Trump – and by extension the USA, and by extension the entire money first culture – less and less serious (and rather ironically, the early signs seem to be pointing in the direction that exactly the countries Trump is attacking most fervently are the biggest winners in terms of influence in the world: China and Germany) . Which also makes me a fan. Let’s hope he gets re-elected in 2020.