USA: pandemic, police violence, general revolt: was that now for Trump?

Guest contribution by Thomas Jäger: Corona chaos, police violence, revolt of the generals: Was it now for Trump?

One wants to listen, the other wants to take action. The appearance of the opponents in the US presidential race could not have been more different after the African American George Floyd was killed. There is resistance against Trump. He has his back to the wall. Was that it for him now?

Since Donald Trump descended the escalator to announce his candidacy for the presidency, he has been intensifying the political clashes, dividing American society, and presenting himself as the only politician who can really solve the problems because he is not going to the Washington political swamp belongs.

This method has worked amazingly well given the booming economy over the past three and a half years. The stock markets went through the roof, unemployment plummeted, wages rose, which is why many Americans accepted the confusing reality star in the White House.

All reports of the chaos there, the many changes in personnel and the attempts of his advisers to hedge the President’s decisions did little to change the firm support of his supporters. In Trump you see the one who brings American society back to its old normal. He didn’t care that half of the Americans rejected him.

About the expert

Prof. Dr. Thomas Jäger has held the Chair for International Politics and Foreign Policy at the University of Cologne since 1999. His research focuses on international relations as well as American and German foreign policy.

The Republicans as a Trump party

The only thing that mattered to Trump was how strongly the Republican party was behind him. The party’s approval ratings of over 90 percent were relatively stable after an initial hesitation. The polarization worked because he was reliably supported by Fox, a major television broadcaster. There was no longer an opposition within the party. The other Republican officials and politicians either followed his line or remained silent. They were too afraid of the President’s concentrated Twitter revenge on those who turned against him.

All he needed to stabilize this situation was an internal enemy. He found it in the left-wing Democrats who he wanted to stamp as Communists. He never sought the approval of all Americans; he was given enough by his supporters because they should give him another election victory.

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Republican insecurities

It seems to be over for at least a moment. Republicans’ confidence in the country’s development has plummeted from 70 to below 40 percent in the past few weeks, and the next polls will show that support for Donald Trump in the party has waned for the moment. This has less to do with the fact that prominent Republicans are now standing against Trump – George W. Bush, Mitt Romney and Colin Powell did not campaign for Trump in the last election either – but with the cumulative crises in the United States.

All information about the George Floyd case in the FOCUS Online news ticker.

The pandemic failure

The government’s failure in corona politics, the subsequent high level of unemployment and the images of overt police violence had an impact on the republican base. It was also registered there that the president was late in the corona pandemic. That after trying to trivialize the pandemic, he spoke obvious nonsense. Thinking about drinking disinfectant or getting light injected were the most blatant failures from the Corona press conferences, which he then stopped.

The economy is falling

Due to the extensive lockdown, 40 million Americans were unemployed within a few weeks and thus not only lost their income, but often also their health insurance. While Trump did not grieve for the nearly 110,000 Corona victims, but boasted how many millions of lives he would have saved through his powerful politics, he urged the governors to lift the exit restrictions so that the economy could grow again.

Police violence and racism

In this double crisis of pandemic and unemployment, the video of a young woman filming how a white policeman handcuffed a black man in long minutes for his life triggered a storm of indignation and abruptly reintroduced racism in the United States public awareness.

Trump did not find an appropriate word, but poured oil into the fire of public anger by demanding that the US military be used against demonstrators. There could be no doubt that this would have triggered a state crisis. Because against the will of the governors, the American military should not be deployed internally. And they totally rejected such an approach. The fact that a coup d’état was imminent that justified such an operation was only believed and propagated by Trump’s supporters with thick blinkers anyway.

The generals dis-respect

The fact that the president even considered this mission not only led many generals to deny him, fundamentally and forever, the ability to be a respected commander-in-chief of the armed forces. For example, former Defense Secretary James Mattis stated that he was unable to make a mature judgment and that many officers gathered behind his judgment. No senior officer stood behind Trump. Rather, the retired generals and admirals of the American armed forces expressed themselves in a negative way about the president in such a way that this almost amounts to an uproar. They never agreed, the United States military may be used against American citizens if they exercise their constitutional rights.

The relationship between the armed forces and the commander-in-chief has been shaken over the long term and will not be reinstated. A deployment inside would have shaken the confidence of US citizens in the military. They couldn’t allow that. Trump cannot be indifferent to this. Because many of its voters came from the security organs, the police and the military.

Read also: Ex-generals and high-ranking Republicans: The open revolt against Donald Trump

The Bible picture

Evangelical Christians are an even more important group of voters. Baptists and Catholics immediately criticized the President’s Bible picture, and even among evangelicals there is a slight collapse in approval. Trump wanted to send a strong picture – probably in complete overestimation of his own role. Law and order and the Bible. But that went completely backwards and will stick to him as a picture of double improper presumption.

One criticism is that the president used the dictator’s handbook when he let his way clear. He misused religious symbols the second. The real symbol was the new high fence around the White House. Trump finally had his wall, but not to Mexico, but to protect himself. Not America first, but Trump first.

Was it Trump?

Trump is currently standing with his back to the wall regarding his election chances in November. If elected tomorrow, Joe Biden would be the next president of the United States. But tomorrow will not be elected, but only on November 3rd. A lot can happen until then. Nobody can know for sure which topics will then move publicly. Five months ago, nobody had corona, unemployment and racism on the top of the electoral agenda. That’s why Trump can’t be written off yet.

These crises will also keep his steadfast followers together. And if the American economy, like Phoenix, emerges from the ashes of the self-inflicted economic crisis, then other groups of voters are again within its reach. Because these have contributed to many capers and social destruction in the past three years because the economy was booming. Trump’s election fate hangs on her.

Challenger Joe Biden

His challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, has not really excited American voters in recent weeks. It is also not very inspiring. Many consider him too old, almost dumb. Its greatest advantage is that it is known at every kitchen table and that only a few really have anything against it. He will try to surf the wave of protests that is now picking up and to benefit from the pressure to mobilize in society. And to choose a runner-up who gets carried away more than he does.

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