The distance between the views of the globalized elite and those of the average citizen is great, and it could be growing. Nowhere is that more evident than in the United States of America.
The antics of American President Donald Trump have terrified every sober and experienced observer. Trump’s modus operandi effectively undermines the Western world order as this came to be established by the United States in the wake of the Second World War.
Institutions, principles and diplomatic etiquette are being shattered. What happened at the G7 summit last week was unprecedented, particularly when one compares it to what followed in Singapore. Trump openly lashed out at America’s oldest and closest allies and, shortly after that, acted as if he were the best friend of the world’s most notorious dictator and traditional US foe.
It’s like the world has turned upside down. American hegemony is – to the joy of Russia and, above all, China – coming apart before our eyes.
That said, we should not make the mistake of believing that these concerns are shared by the average worker or businessman in the heart of America. Many of these people thought of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, as a likable president who on the other hand projected the image of a weak America to the world. Trump satisfies the primitive instincts of a large share of the population who believe in “America first” and who would rather have a beer with Trump than eat sushi with Obama.
We live in angry times. Anti-systemic frustrations are widespread. Trump plays to sentiment, whereas Obama tried to appeal more to reason. Some commentators have hastened to predict that the time of the West is over. Others are calling for prudence because the cycles of history cannot fit in the text of a single tweet.
Perhaps the Trump administration was a phase that the United States had to go through. The current administration could serve as a catalyst that will shake things up and force the elites in the US as well as the rest of the Western world to be creative and think outside the box.
Trump may be generating frustration in Brussels, Berlin, New York and Washington, but that does not mean that he will not get the Missouri vote. In fact, the opposite is most probably the case.