President Trump is a constitutionalist

Before the US elections - Four years of Trump: How the President shaped life in the USA

The escalator, the billionaire, the Mexican rapists. The bang of Donald Trump's entry into politics reverberates to this day. It became the symbol of a presidency. To a pattern in which staging and provocation come first, the content in tow.

Escape to your own camp is more important than ever. With the result that the counterpart is increasingly no longer seen as a political opponent, but as an enemy.

Political opponents see the latter as scandalous and harmful, quite clearly. The Republican orthodoxy that Trump pursues on issues such as taxes, guns, and health policy. Or when he snubbed the mainstream of his party in immigration and trade policy.

But in the end it is always Trump's overall package. A total package of style and content that provokes and emotionalises so many people. Like a background noise - for some with the penetrance of tinnitus. And because you can't turn it off, they want to hear the counterprogram. Continuiously louder. Escape to your own camp is more important than ever. With the result that the counterpart is increasingly no longer seen as a political opponent, but as an enemy. It's called polarization.

Donald Trump has left his mark on American life far beyond politics. He dominated it almost at will, shaped the reporting. And not infrequently, his harsh style, his infidelity to facts and the outrage about it have taken up more space than the content itself.

Satisfied ...

Sometimes you could almost have forgotten that the Trump administration was pursuing a political agenda that the President wanted to implement more consistently than almost any previous promise, and that it did.

Despite all the indignation against Trump, one could almost miss the fact that many of his 62 million voters are satisfied. Not all of them, of course. But by no means only those who are in the forefront of Trump rallies, blindly celebrating him as the messiah, as the guardian of their cultural, white values.

From a conservative, Republican point of view, a lot has happened.

No, also other millions of Americans who simply and very legitimately find its content good: the war veteran, whose trauma the state has paid too little attention to. The anti-abortion opponent who demands conservative judges. The coal worker from West Virginia, the craftsman from Michigan, who for years did not feel taken seriously by politics. The best earners, the business lobby, the family business, all of which are happy about fewer taxes and regulations. The evangelicals, who see religious freedoms under pressure, the isolationists, the US soldiers no longer want to see them scattered around the globe. And many and much more.

In short: from a conservative, Republican point of view, a lot has happened.

... and disappointed

Of course, Donald Trump has not achieved much either. A few things should be mentioned here without claiming to be exhaustive: the jobs - before Covid-19 - did not come back on a large scale from abroad to the industrialized countries of the Midwest. The economy was doing well, but Trump wasn't the greatest job president of all time. The protective tariffs have not brought the Chinese to their knees. He could not abolish Obamacare health insurance. The wall to Mexico is nowhere near. Trump raised billions for it and got a lot going, but not a cent comes from Mexico.

In addition, President Trump repeatedly trampled democratic institutions, such as courts and his own government agencies, was not prepared to condemn right-wing extremist violence and repeatedly shows himself open to conspiracy theories. All things that simply do not belong for the president of a democracy like the USA. And are unparalleled in the recent history of the country.

Covid-19 tested Donald Trump in all respects, but above all in terms of style and content.

Then came Covid-19. And the disease turned a country that was already politically shaken upside down. She tested Donald Trump in all respects, but above all in terms of style and content. As strong as ever before, however, it was no longer enough for many. With his style, how he presented himself in the crisis, did not take it seriously, ignored science and was not ready to take responsibility. And in terms of content, what he did and failed to do and contributed to the US never really getting the virus under control to this day.

The overall Trump package, which had let his opponents blow up the walls since day 1, fell out of favor with more and more people. Simply because the crisis came closer to Trump than anything else in three years. They made them sick, took away relatives and friends, and revealed how helpless they are at the mercy of high hospital bills. Not to mention the economic failures. And Trump is also falling out of favor because he has been on the election stage in the last few days and claims the pandemic has been overcome if new highs for corona infections are reported at the same time.

In the end, the electorate decides

This is not a swan song for Donald Trump and certainly not an election forecast. Rather, it is an observation of how a president's style and politics can be reassessed in a major crisis. And much more fundamental; how after four intense and noisy years some people long for a little less background noise and more peace and quiet. For their own reasons, the others will very legitimately choose the Donald Trump package again. Just as it has to be in a democracy.

Peter Düggeli

USA correspondent, SRF

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SRF correspondent Peter Düggeli has been working in Washington since summer 2015. He has been with SRF since 2010. Düggeli studied history and English at the University of Freiburg and graduated in 1999 with a licentiate.