What foreign leaders Trump admire
Alan Benson, 56 years old, long-time member of the American Church in Berlin. Alan works as a technical translator and is active for the "Democrats Abroad Germany".
Similar to the AfD, Trump addresses people who are afraid. Fear because they have lost their jobs - to Mexico or China, for example - or fear losing them. With the promise of “jobs” Trump also reaches the people whom he actually often insults in his speeches - blacks, Hispanics, women. Of course, others also have Trump's visions of the future. But Trump downright hammered it into people - always in his easy, free way. He supposedly has the vocabulary of a fifth grader. Now many voters are also on the level of education of a fifth grader, have not paid so much attention in politics class and believe that Trump can deliver everything he promises. And his business successes are also very striking. People see: he trampled on. The business setbacks Trump has suffered only make him more personable to most. Because if you lie on the ground and come up again, then you have strengths and qualities that can help you and the state advance. People like this and like and click like crazy. This voting on social media, as well as on the “American Idol” program, makes it easy for people to vote carelessly - and for Trump to become really popular.
"Similar to the AfD, Trump addresses people who are afraid"
Amy Patton, 37 years old, was born in Austin, Texas. She has lived and worked as an artist in Berlin for ten years, where she also studied.
Trump is like a car accident. You don't want to look, but you just have to. He fits the 21st century like someone on a reality TV show. The stereotype of a rich person. Because he's so grotesque, garish and strange, the media likes to report on him. The people who are attracted to Trump have very little money. The working class in the USA is shockingly poor, also because there is no social system like in Germany. Trump offers simple solutions to their problems, such as: Get rid of all Mexicans. Some also admire him for his wealth.
“Trump is like a car accident. You don't want to look, but you just have to "
As if Donald Trump would ever bother with any of them! But they feel completely powerless and then it's nice that this guy is disrespectful and just says “Fuck you all!” Aside from the racism, there is also a lot of sexism involved with the supporters. If Trump becomes president, I would be expatriated, I don't give a fuck. My friends think like me, so that's relaxed. My parents, on the other hand, are very conservative and a bit racist. You live in Texas and are definitely against a strong state and for war - nobody should mess with "their country". Society seems to be polarized, there seem to be no more opinions in between, only extremes.
Davey Frankel, 46 years old, is a filmmaker and works in a restaurant in the Neukölln district of Berlin that is known for its California-style breakfast.
Many people in the United States feel disrespected and betrayed by the ruling class. When I look at the AfD in Germany, they stir in the same pot. I don't even think that there was a conscious effort by the elites to reset parts of the population - it was the way things went in globalization. And Trump is now fueling this anger on the elites. And absurdly, he is one of them. The question is, why does this fall on such fertile ground in white men with little education. I think: because parts of the Republican Party have been like a gigantic production machine for fears in the past few years. And they talked this country badly. Even many conservatives affirm that Republicans created the Trump phenomenon themselves. Then they still hoped that it would take care of itself, but Trump got more and more into motion. Should he really become president, however, one can expect that he will have to adapt to the political system with its checks and balances and that he will in a certain way be tamed by him. On the other hand, I fear that if his dissatisfaction increases, he will do more of what the Republicans have been doing for years anyway: torpedo everything, make the political system dysfunctional, stir up panic.
"In recent years, parts of the Republican Party have been like a gigantic production machine for fears"
Kerry Reddington, 50 years old, is an entrepreneur in the event services sector and is also politically active as a member of the municipal foreign representation of the city of Frankfurt am Main.
People don't feel like politicians anymore. Let's take a look at the world: We have trouble with Russia, the war in Syria, we have problems everywhere - and they can't all be from George Bush (laughs). Trump's advantage: he is not a politician, but a businessman. That doesn't make him better or worse. But it is not corrupted by the system, it is not for sale. At least not now (laughs again). Seriously: He may have less experience with politics, but like any good businessman he will put together a team. I am an entrepreneur myself and get experts. You can not know everything. A good leader knows when he needs experts.
"People don't feel like politicians anymore"
Donald Trump also has the balls to say it as it is: When the Pope said that the US shouldn't build a wall, Trump told the Pope to first dismantle his own walls around the Vatican. The Pope apologized. Everyone apologizes. Because Trump is right. With all the criticism, too much is being taken out of context. A young student recently told me that Trump wanted to build a wall around the entire country (laughs). Most of the time, people are simply uninformed. Many people around me also say that he is the greatest criminal, a racist, misogynist ... I then try to refute that with facts: How many women does Trump employ, how many are on the board? Then everyone is always surprised how many women there are. Now is the time to change. Take Ronald Reagan, who was also an actor, a movie star. If he could become president, so can Trump.
Thomas Leiser, 61 years old, lives in Gießen, Hesse, is married to a German and is involved as honorary president of the "Republicans Abroad Germany".
Trump is not my first choice. Actually, the philosophy of the Republican Party in the USA is: very little political influence on the lives of the individual. But Trump says that he wants to change many trade matters, he says that he wants to tackle various social programs anew, he says that he wants to build a great wall to keep immigrants out. He is characterized by rapidly changing positions. It's hard for me to accept. For a US president, unpredictability is absurd. There would be other good candidates with very clearly defined concepts and goals. But there seem to be a fair number of Americans who support Trump's approach. Complaining about the elites is always a surefire way to get a lot of people to listen. There are a large number of losers from globalization.
And they are vulnerable to the message: This is because your current political leaders have made wrong decisions. Indeed, in the Republican Party too, these people have been overlooked for too long. And certainly the tea party movement was far too extreme and spurred a lot of people on. There is a fundamental problem in the US with its two-party system: the country is politically divided into two equal halves. One is always the loser all along the line and the ruling party is always in conflict with one half of the country. This is completely different in a multi-party system like in Germany. If Trump is really nominated, a large part of the Republican Party will also support him. But with every election there are also dissenters. I haven't made up my mind yet. It also depends on who the Democrats will ultimately field.
Shannon Smith, 32 years old, is responsible for the "User Experience" at the green search engine ecosia.org in Berlin.
Now the Republicans are ashamed of the Trump supporters, but if a party doesn't care about what the people really lack, then they get extreme. If you want to prevent these people from voting for Trump, no matter how good you argue. John Oliver's viral video was also far too elitist, far too demanding and missed the point. A large part of our country - both right and left - feels neither represented nor understood. 300 million inhabitants are too many and two parties too few. And at the same time incredible things are happening in the world - terrorist attacks, broken economic systems, wars, crumbling states.
"It hits a nerve, many people feel that their feelings are confirmed by it"
Something is out of whack and it scares many Americans. It's all about this. But they can't really express it. And everyone tells them they are racists instead of helping them deal with their fears and anger [video]. Trump, an idiot who says very simple things, takes advantage of this over and over again. It hits a nerve, many people feel that their feelings are confirmed by it. I think that's bad, but I'm not surprised. Even with many people in my family, I would not be surprised if they vote for Trump. You'd probably say he's an idiot - but hey, he has some good ideas and, "I like his attitude!"
Jenna Krumminga, 32 years old, is a writer and translator. She is currently working on her PhD in history. She commutes between New York and Berlin.
“Trump makes racism, xenophobia and misogyny socially acceptable, which have plagued American culture for a long time, but which had disappeared from the scene for a few decades. Some people seem to be grateful to him for that. In addition: Americans love outsiders - with Trump this is of course ironic, because he could hardly be entangled in the political and economic oligarchy that his supporters so despise. This hatred is the source from which Trump draws his popularity - incidentally, the same one that Bernie Sanders of the Democrats taps into: a deep conviction that there is a wrong game going on, that the system only supports the elites and business, politics and media together ring in order to maintain their power. Trump's wealth allows him to maintain immunity from lobbyists and advocacy groups. And because he is against the Republican elite, he can sell himself as an anti-establishment, which is ridiculous. And so we are currently experiencing the absurd spectacle that a key figure in the financial elite is riding a wave of populism towards the White House.
Brenda E. Stevenson is a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, which promotes intellectual and cultural exchange between the USA and Germany.
I don't think Donald Trump is actually going over that well with the masses. I think it's mostly a media phenomenon. Because he is excellent at presenting himself in a media-effective manner: as a successful businessman, as cheeky, wealthy and as a candidate who differs from other politicians. Trump has made himself a brand, he was a kind of celebrity even before the election campaign. His fans therefore think they know him, know what to expect from President Trump. Trump reminds them of the supposedly "good old days" - the time when the white, Christian, wealthy men were alone in this country have determined. Does his fans also support his political program? The average American doesn't even know what Trump stands for. He has no clear agenda and hardly any concrete political plans. Apart from his plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico. By rarely positioning himself clearly in a certain corner, Trump's supporters can think that he wants what they want.
Paul Hockenos, journalist and author, writes for the New York Times and Spiegel among others and lives in Berlin.
There are many explanations for the Trump phenomenon. What Europeans don't really notice is how much this radicalism has to do with the general shift to the right by Republicans in recent decades. In the 1970s, it was thought that it couldn't be more conservative than under Nixon. Then came Reagan and finally the second George Bush. That really didn't seem possible any more. But then, with Trump.
"Actually, that's not surprising when you look at the development of the Republican Party more closely."
Actually, that's not surprising when you look more closely at the development of the Republican Party. Your attitude to climate change, the creation of the world, the question of when life begins and thus abortion - there is very little based on scientific knowledge and rationality. Today these are rather beliefs in which no compromise can be negotiated. And anyone who doubts them is considered a traitor. At the same time, the republican establishment has repeatedly failed with its dogmatic policies. Unlike Obama. He even got his program through with a Congress in which the Republicans had a majority. These are great successes, and the Republicans have nothing like them to show - apart from prevention policies. Because the Republican establishment has done such a bad job demonizing the Democrats from Clinton to Obama, someone like Trump had to come, who stands outside that establishment and mobilizes the right wing.
Photos: Mark Peterson / Redux / Redux / laif; UPI / laif
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