A year ago I thought Donald Trump was done politically. Of course I took into account his resurrection, but I was hoping that other candidates would take his stand, and Republicans were a bit tired of Trump. But then Ron DeSantis showed up
A fake trump that doesn't match the real thing. And Nikki Haley, the only opponent left in the tournament, has almost no chance.
Trump's wins in Iowa and New Hampshire worry many. Could he really be re-elected president? If this happens, will he start acting like a dictator? These are real concerns. He seems increasingly angry, desperate and fearful.
Good, but not great
As for Trump's re-election chances, the results of the Republican primary vote have been good for him, but not great. Only a small majority supported Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire. But these are states where Trump has not done well in the past for a number of reasons. Many voters in New Hampshire were “independent” voters, not “true” Republicans, until primary day. He did not fare well among these voters either. It's hard to be president in a polarized country if you don't have full support within your own party. According to one forecast, you'd need 90 percent of your own party to win, which Trump won't achieve. There is a strict minority within his own party who will not vote for him under any circumstances.
But in that respect, Biden is also vulnerable, especially since he is seen as too old to be president again. His policy is also met with opposition. His overt pro-Israel stance could cost him the support of many Arab Americans who voted for him in large numbers during previous elections. It is questionable whether he will win back the important state of Michigan, this time with a large Arab-American population. But the US economy is doing very well right now, which is expected to boost his re-election chances.
Very capricious and unruly
Many political commentators and historians fear authoritarianism under Trump if he is unexpectedly re-elected. Of course, anything is possible under his rule, but I don't overthink this scenario. Trump is so unstable and undisciplined that I wonder if he can garner enough support to usher in a totalitarian regime. I expect this will lead to years of confusion and strife. It is impossible to predict the consequences for international politics if this country is ruled by a president who, in the eyes of many government leaders, is completely unaccountable.
Even if Trump doesn't succeed in turning America into a totalitarian state, there are plenty of reasons to worry if he succeeds in becoming the face of the Republican Party. He will not bring about the end of democracy, but the coarsening of society. Even if Biden is re-elected, this genie will never go back into the bottle. Trump has brought us an angry and fearful America that is not looking for solutions, but for enemies.
We see parallel developments in Europe, where the far-right has scored high in polls in France and Germany and won in the Netherlands. The danger is not directly in introducing unconstitutional rules such as deportation (in Germany) or restricting religious freedom (as the PVV wants), or in voters suddenly taking hard-right positions. It is an increase in anger, fear and distrust that affects the quality of our shared lives.
James Kennedy is an American historian at Utrecht University. Every week he gives his perspective on Dutch society in Dru. Read more columns by James Kennedy here.
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