Warning: If you are someone who either loathes or loves Donald Trump, then you might be better off stopping here.
Read on and l can guarantee you will only get annoyed.
The majority of Western Europeans are anti-Trump and pro-Biden. Nevertheless, there is a small minority of Trump fans. Reports in the European media are incredibly one-sided—almost exclusively supportive of Joe Biden and against Trump. This has inspired a minority to go against the grain and support Trump because everyone else is against him. When it comes to Donald Trump, there is hardly any middle ground: people are either 100 percent against him and view him as the devil incarnate. Or they are 100 percent for him and consider him a genius.
I have been closely observing Trump for many years now. During the election campaign four years ago, I spent two months in the United States; I also read all of the major Trump biographies. And there are two channels I make sure I watch every day: Fox News and CNN. In Germany, Fox is portrayed as Trump’s propagandistic mouthpiece. But the situation is somewhat more complicated than that. Over the past few months, Trump has repeatedly complained about Fox News. The difference between this and previous elections, he said in a speech last week, was: “We’ve lost Fox.” Yes, Fox News definitely leans toward Trump (which is especially true of the host Sean Hannity), but Fox News is not as unabashedly pro-Trump as CNN or the New York Times appear to be anti-Trump.
I take a more nuanced view of Donald Trump.
What I Do Like about Trump
Trump has done some good things, especially in terms of economic and tax policy. Instead of creating a mountain of red tape and regulation, as was the case under Obama, Trump has focused on deregulation and abolishing superfluous regulations. He has also significantly reduced taxes. Both of these have been extremely positive for the U.S. economy. Unemployment has fallen dramatically (until the onset of the coronavirus crisis). Stock markets have boomed.
What I have always liked about Trump is that he simply doesn’t care about political correctness. Political correctness is a massive threat to freedom, and it is even more widespread in the United States than it is in Europe. So it is liberating when someone throws the political correctness rulebook out of the window. Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama prioritized issues such as transgender toilets and even issued a crawling apology after complimenting a female prosecutor on her looks, a comment that sparked outrage among the politically correct. Many Americans were and are annoyed by political correctness and Trump has certainly benefited from their exasperation.
Trump is a champion of “law and order” and repeatedly raised the issue of left-wing violence, with a particular focus on the Antifa movement. In contrast, the Democrats have remained silent. Anyone who monitors the news in Europe does not have an adequate picture of the extent of left-wing violence in the United States. And Trump resolutely opposes the Left’s crazy calls to “defund the police.” These are all the things that I like about Trump.
What I Don’t Like about Trump
As a matter of principle, I don’t like people who lie. Some of Trump’s supporters excuse his lies by saying that all politicians lie from time to time. But you’d be hard-pressed to find another politician who has lied as often and as brazenly as Trump.
And I can’t stand people who constantly talk about things they don’t know anything about. Trump has repeatedly claimed to know more about everything in the world than anyone else. Of course, that is not the case. A person who does not know what he knows and what he does not know—and who doesn’t know the limits of his knowledge—will make a lot of mistakes that could have been avoided. When you read the comments Trump has made about the coronavirus since February 2020, you have no option but to shake your head in utter disbelief. The fact that most European politicians have also been guilty of making massive mistakes at every stage of the coronavirus pandemic does not detract in any way from Trump’s failures.
What galls me most about Trump is his sympathy for dictators. His most affectionate remarks are always reserved for autocrats and dictators, for Vladimir Putin, Recep Erdogan and Kim Jong-un. I have no objection to the fact that he has held talks with Kim Jong-un. But Trump has failed in his North Korea policy—just like his predecessors. And he even praised the inhuman dictator Kim in the highest possible terms, which was not only gratuitous but unworthy of an American president.
When it comes to economic and tax policy, as I mentioned above, he did get some things right. However, even that is only half the truth: He has added to what was already a massive national debt mountain. Additionally, he has pursued protectionist policies that limit free trade. These are two negative points that I do not like.
And what is the situation from the German perspective? The fact that Trump doesn’t like Angela Merkel is not a negative. If anything, it actually speaks in his favor. Even though he has called for Europe, and Germany in particular, to massively increase its commitment to defense is entirely justified. But his protectionist trade policy represents a clear and present danger to the German economy.
Irrespective of this, I personally would not vote for Trump. But neither would I vote for Joe Biden. The Democrats, who have drifted more and more to the Left, only rallied by Joe Biden in order to deceive the American electorate. Biden will pursue the mistaken policies enacted by Barack Obama, under whom he served as vice president. Worse, he will implement elements of the leftist agenda advocated by politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—and that would be bad for the United States.
Rainer Zitelmann is a German historian and sociologist.