What is happening in the United States is a symptom of what is happening in the West. It was an election campaign that points to a deep fracture in Western democracies. We are about to see a similar show in France soon. Neither candidate excites the public.
In Britain, it was the Brexit referendum, which reached its climax with a political murder. In other European countries, the polls predict a real drop in power for old parties and the rise of radical right-wing parties. The battle is between an old, corrupt and rotten establishment and populist and demagogic politics. In other words: Clinton vs. Trump.
The ugly expressions of the election campaigns, like the one taking place in the US as we speak, should not conceal the real fracture. Western democracies are struggling with questions of national identity, solidarity, a shared ethos, or what is left of it, the place of religion, etc. There are not simple questions, even if the answers so far are simplistic. Most European countries have tried to imitate the American melting pot over the past few decades. More foreigners, more immigrants, more refugees. No more nation states, but an open, pluralistic and multicultural society.
In the US, admittedly, it worked. Especially when the immigrants were from Italy and Poland, from England and Germany. And we are forbidden, strictly forbidden, to say a single word of criticism which exceeds the political correctness choir. US President Barack Obama reached the top when he willingly chose blindness and refused to say the words “Islamic terror.” There is no such thing as far as he is concerned, because someone might be offended. Donald Trump took the frustration from this blindness, leveraged it and became the Republican Party’s nominee.
On the other hand, there is something symbolic about the fact that one of Hillary Clinton’s chief donors, George Soros, an anti-Israel billionaire, is both an ardent supporter of philosopher Karl Popper’s “open society” concept and a person whose name has been linked to corruption affairs and who made a fortune from speculations in the capital market.
It was also one of the issues in the background of the Brexit referendum: A dispute between the European school which erases borders and those in favor of restoring the British identity. This is the exact same dispute which Europe’s states are struggling with now. Brussels, the European Union capital, is the European parallel of Washington’s political corruption.
The revolt began more than a year ago with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who announced his refusal to accept Brussel’s dictations on immigrant quotas. He began placing barriers and building fences, and immediately became Europe’s racist. Strangely enough, almost everything Orban said became the policy of most Western European countries within a few months.
But the real fracture, which calls for a discussion, managed to make its way into the US election headquarters. Instead of a discussion, we received screams and scorns, because both candidates – Trump and Clinton – did not even try to present a serious stance. They are nothing more than a caricature of the stance that is identified with them in a very nebulous manner. The supporters of the conservative-national approach and the supporters of the liberal-universal approach deserve slightly more serious representatives than the ones running for president in the US and soon in France.
And that’s just the beginning. The US elections did not provide a serious reflection of the dispute. They harmed it. To be continued, hopefully in a slightly more serious manner.