Deutschland is struggling with an invasion of migrants many of whom are criminals, the EU is splintering, and the arrogance of Trump hatred is appalling. The recent issue had the following headlines:
Trump’s AmericaDemocracy at the Tipping Point
‘America First’Trump and Bannon Pursue a Vision of Autocracy
Trump as Nero Europe Must Defend Itself Against A Dangerous President
The Pain of a Donald Trump Presidency
Travel BanDonald Trump Better Watch Out!
Trump’s Attack on Germany and the Global Economy
And this column is the nastiest……
How America Lost Its Identity By Holger Stark
Reporter Holger Stark spent the past four years as DER SPIEGEL’s Washington correspondent during a time in which the country changed radically enough to elect Donald Trump as its president. What led this once mighty nation into decline?
On a frigid January evening one year ago, I was standing in a line of around 1,000 people in Burlington, Vermont, to see Donald Trump. I reported my very first story on the United States in 1991 and had been living in the country since 2013. I thought I knew the country well. But on that evening in January, I realized that I had been mistaken.
Burlington lay under a blanket of snow and next to me in line stood Mary and Tim Loyer, both wrapped in dark-blue parkas. Mary was unemployed and her son Tim had a job at a bar. Both told me they were Bernie Sanders supporters. Tim said he was particularly bothered by the power held by large companies, that the division of wealth was unfair and that people like him no longer had opportunities to improve their lives. It was the anthem of the working class.
When asked what he found attractive about Trump, Tim said: “Bernie and Trump are the only politicians who say what they’re thinking and do what they say,” as his mother Mary nodded along. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is corrupt, he said. In an election pitting Trump against Clinton, Tim said he would not vote for Clinton. Again, Mary nodded.
At the entrance, security personnel patted us down and asked if we were planning on voting for Trump. Only those who said yes were allowed to proceed.
When Trump began speaking, a demonstrator stood up and yelled that Trump was a racist. The candidate paused, shook his fist and demanded that security throw the protester out. “Keep his coat. Confiscate his coat,” Trump said from the stage. It was 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius) outside. Trump snarled as his fans jumped to their feet hooting and jeering. One was reminded of a lynch mob.
I learned three things on that evening in Burlington: In the fatherland of capitalism, anger with the elite is so vast that even leftists would rather vote for a narcissist billionaire than a veteran of the political establishment. In a country that values freedom of opinion higher than almost any other country in the world, there were now attitude tests prior to admission to political rallies. And many Americans, who are otherwise so polite, lose all restraint when confronted by those who think differently.
Everything that I associated with America seemed no longer to apply on that evening in Burlington. What had happened to this once-proud country?
I found answers to this question on a journey through American society — to places like Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia. Those are just a few of the places I have visited in the last four years — places where those symptoms could be seen that together add up to the huge crisis that has gripped America. This self-confident country that has spent decades exporting its values with imperialist hubris has lost its identity. Democratic capitalism no longer works well enough to keep together a country of 325 million people and to guarantee domestic peace.
The United States is not alone in having been struck by this identity crisis: It has also hit the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other countries. But America, where capitalism flourishes to a greater degree than anywhere else, has been hit the hardest of all.
The secret to the country’s success was not just that societal cohesion was anchored by one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, but also by the promise of advancement inherent in the American Dream. The result was an extremely powerful country that seemed unlimited in its possibilities. It wasn’t always attractive, and sometimes it was downright ugly, but the U.S. was always the country that the rest of the world looked to. America proudly led the way.
The America of today has lost faith in its own superiority. It has become a regressive country that is turning its back on the world. If you leave Washington, D.C., behind and travel through the country, from Alabama to Alaska, you will find that the American Dream has been lost. The country is no longer proudly leading the way.
With his diabolical instinct for the country’s political mood, Trump captured this shift on campaign evenings like the one in Burlington, distilling it to a single maxim that warmed the hearts of many in the United States: “America First.” Trump epitomizes America’s desire for a new identity, he has lit a beacon of hope for the white majority that still makes up two-thirds of the country’s population. Many of them have come to feel like foreigners in their own country. More than anything, though, he has promised to return greatness and values to this unsettled and adrift slice of society. That he will “Make America Great Again.”