Donald Trump’s face is on every newspage. He is known and quoted by people in the streets. His medical record attesting good health is presented like a lifeboat for the nation.

No, this is not some totalitarian dictator in a shut-down place far away, this is the currently most popular Republican candidate for the US presidential election. Leading in polls for five months in a row and puzzling analysts, Donald Trump is certainly a phenomenon in US politics. How could it come to this?

Trump

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

What is Trump’s plan for America?

He wants to “make America great again”, so let’s see what that great America would look like for him: There would be a “great great wall” at the US-Mexican border. A quick glance at recent history tells us building walls was never a “great” idea: the wall between Israel and Palestine is causing suffering on both sides and has made neither side more peaceful, the Iron Curtain during the Cold War was certainly more part of the problem than of the solution, and the new fences around “Fortress Europe” will probably cause more deaths among asylum seekers but have no effect on migration to Europe. What a wall does, then, is not solve any problems. It is a physical object symbolizing strength, it shows leaders “doing something” against a perceived issue, it nicely projects the image of “good vs bad = us vs them” and makes the world simple and supposedly manageable.

Making the world simple is Trump’s favourite strategy. A primary example: after the attacks in Paris in November 2015 that killed 120 people, Trump claimed that the main problem was that “nobody had guns but the bad guys.” What he is communicating: a) the world is split into good guys and bad guys b) more of the good guys need guns to shoot the bad guys c) America is great because it allows all the good guys to have guns (and the bad guys, too, nevermind…). This sounds like a superhero story for children, but I don’t believe “good” will trump “evil” if we apply this logic to reality.

Trump

Photo credit: Photographing Travis via Foter.com / CC BY

Another point in Trump’s “great” America: no muslims, no illegal immigrants, probably no immigrants whatsoever. Apart from the very obvious xenophobia in these statements, this shows rather pitiable ignorance. The USA, as every child knows, exist today as a superpower because millions of people immigrated there. Well, they happened to destroy existing cultures on the way, but no one called that a “migration crisis”. That term is only popular now that people are fleeing from wars – in which the US has been playing a role, by the way. Suddenly, all muslims could be terrorists and everything “foreign” is a danger. Multiculturalism is apparently not cool any more, then, nor is tolerance. Then what is? Xenophobia is cool, for sure, and maybe racism. In a country of the US’ demographic characteristics, this is paradoxical. Trump is bound to run into his own trap – he has already insulted Muslims, women, black people, climate change activists, Mexicans and everyone who sympathises with any of these groups, so there can’t statistically be that many people left to vote for him.

And yet he is right about one thing: people like him. Not all of them, fortunately, there are so many critical pieces on social and journalistic media that it seems reassuring. But we have to admit that he is saying things many people like to hear, in the US and abroad. If we take what he says about “great” America for facts, though, the US under Trump would be an exclusively white, male state shut off by walls, in which everyone defends himself with his gun and cheers for Trump’s next health certificate. Is that really what voters want?

In his eyes, he is only refusing political correctness to solve problems. Political correctness, though, is but a term with stigma; it reproaches “politically correct” people of being overly sensitive and ridicules their claims. What Trump appears to call political correctness are the very foundations on which the American society –and many others! – are built: tolerance, respect for diversity, equality, non-discrimination, human rights. If Trump is “tired” of them, as he says, and if that means all the people cheering and quietly nodding their heads at what he says are tired of them too, America and, by extension, world politics are in trouble.

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Sonja Wiencke

Sonja Wiencke

Sonja is currently studying at the University of Oxford for an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy, having graduated from a BA in European Studies in Passau, Germany. Her passions include human rights, environmental issues, hidden -isms in society, and improvised theatre. Sonja's dream is to work for the UN or the EEAS.