Economic conservatism only serves the rich

Conservatism without a conscience

Last summer, a good six months after Donald Trump was elected 45th President of the United States on November 8, 2016, pollsters from Quinnipiac University asked a group of Americans: “What is the first word that comes to mind when you arrive? Think Donald Trump? ”The most common answer was“ idiot ”, followed by“ incompetent ”and“ liar ”. "Unqualified", "Clown" and "Asshole" were also mentioned. Also, the responses were related to Trump doing business as a real estate mogul and TV celebrity before he was president. Words like "rich", "business" and "negotiator" were used.

Such in-person criticism of Trump is widespread, but is misleading as an attempt to explain his policies. In reality, Trump was never a good businessman. His economic career was shaped much less by the “art of the deal” (the title of his book) than by a Darwinian survival instinct that only knows winners and losers. "It is dangerous to underestimate Trump, the survivor," argues rightly Ronald Klain, who served Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and, ultimately, Hillary Clinton as a personal advisor. Donald Trump kept reinventing himself to stay on top, first in real estate, then in entertainment, and now in politics. He is definitely developing further - but not for the better.

In that first year he broke too many bridges behind him to ever become a popular president. Its political survival today depends on a right-wing agenda called conservatism without a conscience, which promotes austerity and militarism, divides people with the help of scare tactics and agitation according to origin, ethnicity, gender and sexual preference, restricts fundamental rights and freedoms and both the social network tearing up the social contract.

This program is not popular. According to surveys, most Americans reject it, both as a whole and as a whole. When Trump was in office for six months, the approval rate for his policy was 36 percent according to a poll by the Washington Post and ABC - the lowest value for a president in 70 years. And yet Trump has adopted a clearly defined, ideologically rigid political philosophy, which he is now trying to implement using conventional and unconventional political means. This is shown by his budget, which must be regarded as the central document of his government. He also tries to split and disempower the opposition in order to get his radical plans through. And almost the entire Republican party, even if the party leadership nagged about it, allowed itself to be committed to Trump's program.

So Trump is increasingly guided by ideological motives and is increasingly becoming a party politician. Only when you have seen through this can an opposition be set up that can effectively counter this right-wing steamroller, which is much larger than Trump himself.

Trump's ideology, "Trumpism", is a gross variant of traditional American conservatism, which in turn is a gross variant of conservatism as it is represented in the rest of the world. Trump and his supporters, including the vast majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate, are followers of austerity, which also represent traditional conservative entrepreneurs and neoliberal modernizers. But that is far from all.

They combine strategies that are designed to structurally shift wealth from the bottom up with a program that undermines cosmopolitanism, civil society and the functioning of democracy. Much more clearly than his post-war predecessors, Trump has shed any suggestion that he is trying to strike some balance between domestic demand and the unrestrained demands made by the new Cold Warriors of the 21st century. The President is actively campaigning for an even more bloated military-industrial complex, which is at the expense of vital social programs. At the same time, Trump is increasingly distancing himself from diplomacy and international obligations.

In short: Nothing can disguise Trump's agenda, everything is in black and white. It is the rule of the rich and powerful who rule in the interests of the rich and powerful. If Trump was campaigning as a billionaire as well as a populist, he has now launched a government program that is exclusively in the interests of billionaires. What remains of its populism are racist and xenophobic attacks on immigrants and refugees, cynical attacks on the free press as “the enemy of the people” and the very ambitious goal of restricting democratic rights. He has asserted several times that the right to vote is far too permissive - and that in a republic in which just under half of the adult population takes part in presidential elections. When the populist “chief strategist” Steve Bannon was fired in August of this year, the White House suddenly - and probably for good - ended the anti-free-trade and isolationist policies that had been announced during the election campaign, not least for the sake of alternate votes. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Trump administration's economic policy is influenced by Wall Street lobbies, not unions.

None of this comes as a surprise, however: You can read about many of Trump's plans in the Republican electoral manifesto. Evangelical Christian, political activist and author David Barton stated in the summer of 2016 that the document was "the most conservative program in modern history." The cabinet nominations and the appointments to key positions in the judiciary also show in a remarkable way that this government is not only committed to the interests of companies and to “social conservatism”, the religious conservatism of values. But even more: it is ready to use all its might to create division and the dismantling of democracy. At the same time, the budget proves that the government is willing to sacrifice social programs in order to expand the military-industrial complex even further.

"The old southern strategy at speed"

Now, in the globalized era, it is not uncommon for countries to take the path of corporatism and militarism instead of relying on basic human needs and democracy. In the past, the US has repeatedly entered such dangerous terrain, for example under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, but also with Lyndon B. Johnson's hectic entry into the war in Vietnam.

But as right as it is to always understand a presidency in its own context, it is just as important to point out that the Trump interregnum is something very special. Because this president goes much further than even his most conservative predecessors. He courted the most extreme and dangerous currents of the current conservative movement - and is even more willing than Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to create ethnic and social divisions and exploit them for political ends.

The headline in an article by Conor Lynch on the online platform “Salon” therefore hits the bull's eye: “Donald Trump embodies the old southern strategy [Richard Nixons] at speed. Which is why his candidacy is the culmination of decades of right-wing agitation. ”In fact, Trump's attacks on diversity and democracy are far more threatening than anything Nixon or Reagan ever had in this regard. Because the 37th and 40th Presidents were “only” political careerists, equipped with a wealth of experience from their election campaigns and from their government activities and with somewhat conventional perspectives, even when they crossed borders and the law.

Trump, on the other hand, embodies a new dimension. The danger that Trump represents and his power are fed from the same source. In the beginning he was not popular with the established Republicans, but with the election victory at the latest he turned into the figurehead of the
Political party. He did this by bringing together the great wings of the modern conservative movement. Both exceptionally cynical business forces and religious fanatics have jumped on the Trump bandwagon. The former see the government as a quarry from which they serve themselves and their business partners. The latter have made the exercise of power to impose their will on others a political principle. The militarists see it too. They were initially skeptical of Trump, and some remain angry about his unpredictability. But as the president has pushed hard-line generals into key positions and proposed massive budget increases for the Pentagon, their skepticism is waning.

A dangerous mixture: the Republicans march to the right

Since Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, Republican insiders have complained about his rough edges and his elbow mentality. But gradually they came to terms with the fact that he is not just one of their ranks, but their leader. "In many ways, Donald Trump is now the conservative movement," Republican pollster Jim McLaughlin told Politico online a month after he took office, "and the conservative movement is Trump." Never-Trump "Republicans were considered to be the man and his program. But how does it all fit together? The binders are party soldiery and political cynicism. “Whenever there is a Republican president,” said Mike Lee, the Utah senator who had groused about Trump throughout the campaign, “we understand this person as the leader of the Republican Party. That is also the case today, I would say. ”And this is nothing completely new. The Republicans have been moving to the right since the 1960s, taking increasingly extreme positions in economic and socio-political terms. The more moderate among them are defeated in the primaries or pushed to the margins - or in many cases completely ousted. What then remains is a party with an ideological extreme stance.

Today, Trump unites republicans of different currents for a common purpose: to use the modern electoral machinery to gain and maintain political power, to convert the state itself into a political machine from this position of strength.

This political machine, like those in many major US cities at the beginning of the 20th century, functions by rewarding friends and punishing their enemies. (The most productive harvests are brought in by the economic elites.) At the same time, those who refuse to accept the political project of this machine are punished - for example by permanently attacking individual journalists and, in general, the free press, or by covering ethnic and religious minorities with discriminatory stereotypes. On the whole, Trump's plans are ideologically much more coherent and politically more concrete than his critics would like to admit. Trump's authoritarian plans - the drastic shifting of the state budget in favor of militarism, corporatism, austerity and a “right-wing social technology” (Newt Gingrich) - have their roots in an ideology that is now considered normal mainstream conservatism. However, they go beyond that. Because the political priorities should be aligned in such a way that the opposition (e.g. against budgetary policy) is weakened in elections and, in the long run, deprived of their clout.

Certainly, Trump's irrational and unpredictable statements are terrifying. It is even more frightening, however, when he shows clarity - for example in his plans as president. Because Trump and his allies know exactly where they want America to go. And they are pursuing this intention far more successfully than has previously been generally admitted. Trump is a tough right-wing man today. He is a cynical but staunch convert who is more aggressive in pursuing right-wing goals to their full extent than the conservative old-school presidents before him. For while right-wing objectives are a necessary answer to economic and social problems for conservative Republicans, Trump believes that the conservative movement itself is a necessary answer to its own political problems. To maintain his power, he depends on it, and for that it must be strong. Precisely for this reason (and because he is inclined to do so) Trump has allied himself with anti-democratic and authoritarian right-wing forces, which in turn defend their positions of power by all means - with attacks on the credibility of journalists who threaten to embarrass them and on the voting rights of citizens Citizens they may not vote for.

Trump today clearly stands for a right-wing program. The conservative commentator Dennis Prager said in a column in April 2017 under the heading “It is time for conservatives to celebrate this president” that Trump “not only exceeded many of our expectations, but also governed in a way that which is in line with conservative principles for the first time since President Reagan, and probably even since Calvin Coolidge. ”Prager is right about that.

While the billionaire initially threatened the establishment of the Republican Party as a presidential candidate, he has become a staunch and indispensable party soldier. He backs Republican candidates in important special elections and defends leading Republicans in Congress if they refuse to compromise or collaborate with the Democrats. According to the commentator Jeet Heer, Trump stands for “conservative cruelty” - as a representative of a conservative orthodoxy that exhausts presidential power with appointments, executive orders and social media with the aim of eliminating the poisonous mixture of corporatist superiority, economic nationalism, militarism and religiously right Continue to administer authoritarianism and ethnic and social divisions.

There is something so authoritarian about this president that many observers fear that under his leadership the US could slide into fascism. But Trump's authoritarianism is not based solely on his own sick selfishness. A decade ago, John Dean, a fan of Conservative star Barry Goldwater since his youth and a White House legal advisor under Nixon, published a book called Conservatives Without Conscience. In it he claims that the newer conservative movement adheres to authoritarianism. Conservative policies range “from boundless malice towards anyone who dares to contradict them to religious and pious policies that conceal their indifference: towards the principles of the founding fathers - freedom and equality - and towards fundamental principles such as the Separation of powers. "

Dean warned that the US is at risk from "unscrupulous conservatives who are able to plunge this nation into disasters of unprecedented proportions." He couldn't have known at the time, but the former Nixon advisor probably had a premonition of Donald Trump - and of his relationship with the conservative “grassroots” that are constitutive of his politics.

Dean cited social science research reports that “there is a typical attitude among the population in the United States who are extremely authoritarian: their leaders are not questioned because they do not make mistakes. The followers stand by them forever. They act like lemmings. ”That is exactly what Trump is assuming, and he is betting on it. However, he is therefore also in a predicament: He is so dependent on unscrupulous conservatives that he too has to constantly act like a conservative without a conscience. This has made him even more conservative than conservatives can imagine from a president. The “Investor’s Business Daily” therefore said in agreement: “Donald Trump was rarely conservative in the primaries and in the presidential election campaign.But his personnel policy and his first official measures were as right-wing as it gets. ”This truth is still not fully understood in the USA and even less so abroad, because the media continue to treat Trump as an abstraction and not as a real politician. The same journalists who misjudged Trump's political career in 2015 and 2016 seriously believe that he will surprise the country and the world with a turn to the left or at least to the middle. Their theory is that Trump is a con man with few ideas and even fewer principles, and a political rip-off, always looking for opportunities to get rid of the Republican Party, which he joined only a few years ago. This “never-Trump” attitude is still so popular with conservatives and liberal educated citizens that both often lose sight of the factual politics that the Trump administration is now pursuing.

But Donald Trump has a clear program: it is right-wing, business-friendly, illiberal and often inhuman. It is literally about the distribution of wealth from below - the same voters who backed the “anti-establishment” candidate Trump - up to the rich elites whom he attacked in the election campaign, but whom he is now working to. Its program gives absolute priority to the expansion of the army and the national security apparatus, at the expense of the needs of the people. It rejects science and instead advocates right-wing religious dogmas that would have been too extreme even for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

When Trump was preparing to campaign, he probably didn't have a plan to move that far to the right. But he sensed a possible deal on the right, and so he moved there. The fact that this could perhaps be reversed at a critical stage in the Trump era has always been refuted. According to CNN, he brought “a conservative dream team that has promised to grind the legacy of the Obama administration in health, education, labor and environmental policy as quickly as possible” into his cabinet. Not only is his cabinet the most conservative since the Reagan era, commented former Reagan cabinet member Bill Bennett on Fox News, “she is the most conservative, including Reagans. "

Basis of the war budget: the ends justify the means

Of course, a president's program cannot be thoroughly judged by what cabinet members he has - or what words he uses. You can really analyze it only on the basis of the specific priorities that are listed in the budget of the new government. This shows the real face of Trump. His plan is a combination of militarism, austerity, division and authoritarianism. He is an expression of his political agenda - his conservatism without conscience.

Draft budgets are moral documents, said the Christian thinker and activist Jim Wallis: "Every budget is a moral ranking." Wallis found clear words about the budget plans of the Trump administration, which for the first time made his priorities clear. The household is "a cold-blooded stab in the heart of those people who have to struggle just to support themselves and their families," he said. "It is deeply immoral to protect the rich instead of the poor in the name of deficit reduction." Wallis has advised Democratic and Republican presidents in the past. But he left no good hair on Trump. "Demonizing the poor and crushing social programs for low-wage earners, while the much larger subsidization of the rich remains untouched - that is hypocritical and cruel."

Immoral, hypocritical and cruel. Indeed - all of these apply to Donald Trump's budget plans. But it goes beyond that. Trump's budget bluntly expresses the fiscal fantasies that austerity advocates in the United States and around the world have had for decades. In his first speech to the US Congress, the president called for tax breaks for wealthy Americans and companies, for billions in cuts in social programs (as well as diplomatic and climate policy initiatives) and for these funds to be transferred to the military-industrial complex. At the same time, he suggested that the US should somehow remain a functioning social system. Almost four decades ago, George H. W. Bush had despised this kind of financial gossip as the “voodoo economy”.

There is no fiscal strategy behind Trump's approach that could lead to a future of peace and prosperity. Nor did he actually propose a budget. Rather, it was a political program that passed itself off as a financial calculation. As such, it shouldn't make any sense at all. The real purpose was to provide the irritant effect it was supposed to exert on its right base.

This fact-free budget approach is becoming increasingly popular with the right. The "Conservatives without a conscience" do not care about details because - to quote John Dean again - they do not want to be disturbed by facts or figures in their mission. These political charlatans despise expertise and the practical consequences that must be drawn from it. According to Dean, "they have nothing for anyone or anything but themselves, their tribe and their goal of imposing their worldview on others." In other words, Trump's budget is economically incoherent. But insofar as it reformulates current conservative dogma, it is ideologically precise. The heart of the dogma is the unwavering belief in the military-industrial complex. "I propose to Congress a budget that rebuilds the army, removes the mandatory cap on the Department of Defense and provides one of the largest increases in defense spending in American history," the president announced happily at the end of his speech to Congress. In answering the important question of how he actually wanted to pay for the increase in spending, the President did not bother at all - except that he casually mentioned that he had "imposed a federal hiring freeze for non-military and non-essential workers."

Practical confirmation came a few weeks after Trump's programmatic congress speech. His vicarious agent, Mick Mulvaney, released a draft budget asking Congress to increase the Pentagon budget by $ 54 billion - a ten percent increase over the previous year - and a six percent increase in building a wall on the border Ministry of Homeland Security entrusted to Mexico. At the same time, the draft envisaged zero growth in the national deficit.

But how should this fiscal feat be accomplished? By axing virtually everything else: through cuts of $ 12.6 billion (or 16.2 percent) to the Department of Health responsible for Obamacare health insurance or its override; $ 2.6 billion (or 31.4 percent) with the Environmental Protection Agency; of $ 11 billion (or 28.7 percent) in the State Department; of $ 2.5 billion (or 20.7 percent) in the Department of Labor; $ 5 billion (or 20.7 percent) in the Department of Agriculture and $ 5.8 billion (or nearly 20 percent) in the National Health Institutes. [1]

The Community Service Block Grants, which finance programs such as the meal service for the elderly and the needy (meals on wheels), should be completely abolished; the Society for the Promotion of Public Broadcasting (CPB); the Global Climate Change Initiative; the Legal Service Corporation, which funds legal aid to poor citizens; the Energy Supply for Low Income Households Program (LIHEAP); the National Endowment for the Arts, a foundation promoting the arts and culture; and dozens of programs and initiatives by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education. The Amtrak rail network is being cut funds, as is - of course - the Clean Power Plan and the United Nations climate initiative.

After Bernie Sanders, the Senator from Vermont, read the draft, he described it as "ethically obscene and just bad economic policy". He will hurt unspeakably precisely those people whom Trump had promised to help in the election campaign. “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, with 43 million Americans living in poverty and half of old Americans unable to save for retirement, we shouldn't cut the programs that seniors, children, and working people rely on , while at the same time spending on the military-industrial complex is to be massively increased. Trump's priorities are exactly the opposite of what we need as a country. "

Indeed, pretty much all of the cuts proposed by Trump and Mulvaney are tearing apart America's social fabric. "It is said that a budget is a catalog of values," said Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, shocked. "If that's true, then this budget makes it clear that the Trump administration's special interests and arms companies are more important than American middle-class families." Merkley described the household as an "attack on the livelihoods of our families, from clean air and drinking water to schools for our children to investments in the labor market."

Trump's programs - austerity for working families and generosity towards arms companies - aren't exactly new, however. They have been the mantra of mainstream conservatives since the Grand Old Party got rid of the "Modern Republicans" who shared the worldview of ex-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Since then, the party of reason has become the party of reaction. But even Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush shied away from such extremist budgetary policies. Trump, on the other hand, now represents them with such fervor that one cannot hope that a “billionaire populist” as president will steer the astray party back on the right track.

In fact, Trump, who had promised "Make America Great Again", is saying goodbye to America's "greatness". The “last great hope on the planet”, as the first Republican President Abraham Lincoln called the USA, is now becoming a monstrously militarized state that does not care about its own people.

Eisenhower: "We welcome every honestly meant peace initiative"

With this budget, it is clear to everyone what values ​​this government represents - and what values ​​Trump, in contrast, represented as an election campaigner. Of course, setting up a budget is always a balancing act. And experience has shown that the American experiment is jeopardized if something is out of whack. Eisenhower had already pointed out this connection when he - just two months in office - gave an eagerly awaited speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Eisenhower was the first Republican to have moved into the White House in two decades. In the midst of the Cold War, the United States and the whole world waited eagerly to see what impression it would make. The new president could have chosen any topic for his first speech to the assembled press - and talked about how to properly balance a budget.

Eisenhower were aware of the dangers in the world political arena. He spoke at length about the difficult relations between the US and the Soviet Union and dealt with the danger of annihilation from the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He had made a career in the military, first in World War II as commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in Europe and in the post-war period as Army Chief of Staff amid increasing tensions with Moscow. But that was no reason for him to make additional defense spending a top priority. Rather, he advocated the opposite. He referred to military escalation levels as "the road of fear" and warned of the "draining of the prosperity and labor of all peoples by the burden of arms and the senseless waste of strength from which the American or the Soviet or any other system would suffer provides prosperity and happiness for the peoples of this earth. "

"Every firearm produced," said Eisenhower, "every warship launched, every missile fired is ultimately theft - from those who are starving and not fed, and from those who suffer from the cold and cannot get clothes." And finally said he: “The world has taken a path on which apparently only this one way of life can be found. But is it even a way of life? No, at least not in the original sense. In reality, when war is looming, the crucifixion of mankind will take place. ”Eisenhower did not suggest surrender or immediate or gradual disarmament, but instead diplomatic steps (“ We welcome any honest peace initiative ”), the sincere pursuit of one World with fewer weapons and fewer excuses for war: “The successful completion of these tasks would result in the most important task and the most favorable opportunity, namely the following: the expenditure of all energies, resources and ideas of all peace-loving nations in order to start a new war to lead. We would declare total war, but not a human enemy, but the brute forces of hardship and poverty. ”None of this is out of date today. But times have changed, and with them the world and the United States. And what has changed most is the view that protecting the country and promoting the common good are not mutually exclusive.

Politics for the few through the dismantling of democracy

American conservatives like to say: “You don't get anything for free in life” - which certainly applies to drawing up a state budget. It is simply not possible without consequences to cut domestic and social policy programs by tens of billions of dollars and then use these to enrich the army budget, which is already so huge that the NGO National Priorities Project (NPP) decides: "The funds that the US spending on the military is roughly the same as the defense budgets of all seven of the following foreign military budgets combined. "Americans now make up 4.34 percent of the world's population, but the US army budget is 37 percent of global military spending, according to the NPP. Trump wants to increase this percentage again as much as possible. That alone is a problematic imbalance. It becomes even more problematic that under Trump it is not to be maintained with tax revenue, but through redistribution, with money that could flow into the health system, housing policy and education as well as into diplomatic initiatives and foreign aid (the latter could make it possible reduce military spending). Instead of worrying about the American people, Trump plans to do the opposite, namely to fill the pockets of the arms industry.

This is how Eisenhower's worst fears come true. In his last official address he had warned that “we must guard against the acquisition of unauthorized interference, whether requested or not, by the military-industrial complex.” In no case should civil liberties be restricted or democratic decision-making processes prevented become. Eisenhower knew that democracy is most at risk when cynical politicians take advantage of government power to cement their position of power with the help of scare tactics, politics of division and the restriction of civil liberties.

That is exactly what Donald Trump is doing. When, after his inauguration, he attacked the media more and more for alleged fake news, John McCain, the Republican Senator from Arizona, said: “If you want to preserve our democracy in its current form, then a free and often opposing press is essential. Without them we would lose a lot of individual freedoms over time, I'm afraid. This is how dictatorships begin. ”McCain is right. But he often sounds like a lost voice in the Republican choir on Washington's Capitol Hill. Many prominent Republicans have long since supported Trump's authoritarian program when it comes to media and democratic freedoms.

Even more worrying is the cheer Trump receives from many leading Republicans when he attacks democracy head-on. His lies, for example about “electoral fraud” or “illegal voters”, were previously only considered evidence of his delusional ruthlessness.But they are now a central part of his government and the party that supports them. This became clear when Trump announced on May 11, 2017 that he would appoint Vice President Mike Pence and Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State from Kansas, to chair his new commission to investigate electoral fraud.

That was cleverly engineered. Because hardly anyone doubts the advice Kobach would give the president and the Republicans in Congress. For years the man from Kansas has worked with the opaque American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - a company-funded organization that is supposed to develop “model laws” to promote right-wing economic and social policy in the fifty states. One means of doing this: The states each write their own electoral laws. And after the Republican strategist Karl Rove urged the Conservatives in 2006 to take up the issue of “electoral fraud”, the ALEC propagated electoral reforms that pushed Rove's program forward. And Kobach became its pioneer. After his election as Secretary of State of Kansas, he positioned himself, as the civil rights organization Civil Liberties Union called it, as the "king of voter suppression". Kristen Clark, chairman of the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said, "Kobach is the number one public enemy when it comes to voter suppression in our country." Kobach's claims have been refuted and criticized for so many years and in so many ways that respectable Republicans prefer to keep their distance from the Kansas man. But Donald Trump and the President's inner circle have taken a liking to him. When Trump finally made Kobach the determining actor of his Orwellian commission, the Senate minority leader, Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, declared: “Appointing an extremist like Mr. Kobach to the head of this commission is like becoming one Arsonists are given responsibility for the fire brigade. "

In fact, no one knows better than Kris Kobach that conservative state parliamentarians have a penchant for “model laws” drawn up by business-related organizations and presidential commissions. But now Kobach has been hoisted by Trump into a position in which he has enormous power of definition not only with regard to the elections, but also to the electoral laws in the United States.

How great is this power? Critics claim that the commission was set up specifically to legitimize Donald Trump's false claims about massive electoral fraud on the one hand and to develop proposals to radically rewrite the electoral laws in the states on the other. Voter suppression is the real danger to the cleanliness of elections - and thus also to representative democracy. Donald Trump knows that very well. But it would be absurd to think that the prospect of reduced democracy worries him.

In fact, there is every reason to believe that this is exactly what he enjoys. This political hypocrite, who is now president as a “conservative without a conscience”, refused to promise during the election campaign that he would accept the result of the election, even if, as he (and many others) believed at the time, he would lose it. Ever since he triumphed with a minority vote in that election - with a result that calls into question his continued political survival - he has been spreading lies about the functionality of the electoral process. He's not just doing this to comfort his shaken ego over the fact that he was the first presidential candidate to receive almost three million fewer votes than the competition. No, his often criticized madness has a method. Trump desperately wants to survive politically. And he has a radical agenda to ensure that survival.

Finally stop underestimating Trump!

But how does Trump want to turn his unpopular agenda into a triumphant advance? He relies on the strategy of “divide and rule”. It suggests to Americans not to believe what they are seeing. It demonizes background reporting as fake news, turns political PR talk into "alternative truths", combines the lie of "illegal voting" with suppressive legislation, and thus puts the hope of a more democratic future in the far distance.

Whether Trump will ultimately succeed or fail is not up to him alone. It's up to its critics, the media, politics - in Washington, across the country, and around the world. One thing is certain: the criticism of this president must be measured against political reality and finally become more thorough. Trump can no longer be dismissed as a mere “idiot”, “fool” or “egomaniac”.

Because Donald Trump is the President of the United States. He is a tremendously powerful man. This makes this president, with all his weaknesses, an incredible threat. And Trump is made even more threatening by the fact that he thinks he is on a mission. He has a program. He wants to implement it. He can only be prevented from doing so if the good people no longer concentrate on his unpredictable nature, but finally turn their attention to his dubiously coherent right-wing agenda.

* The article is based on a study by the author that was recently published on the website of the New York office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (www.rosalux-nyc.org); the translation is by Max Böhnel.

[1]The draft budget also saw austerity measures in the ministries for trade (15.7 percent), education (13.5 percent), housing and urban development (13.2 percent), public transport (12.7 percent) and home affairs (11.7 percent) Percent).