Trump supporters Andy Cross/The Denver Post/Getty Images

Wat vertel ik mijn niet-Amerikaanse vrienden?

CAMBRIDGE – Ik reis regelmatig naar het buitenland en zonder uitzondering vragen mijn buitenlandse vrienden met variërende niveaus van verbijstering: wat gebeurt er in hemelsnaam in jouw land? Dit is wat ik dan zeg.

Ten eerste moeten de verkiezingen van 2016 niet verkeerd geïnterpreteerd worden. In tegenstelling tot wat een deel van de commentaren meldt is het Amerikaanse politieke systeem niet door een populistische golf weggevaagd. Donald Trump boorde een traditie aan geassocieerd met leiders zoals Andrew Jackson en William Jennings Bryan in de negentiende en Huey Long en George Wallace in de twintigste eeuw.

En toch verloor Trump in absolute termen met drie miljoen stemmen. Hij won de verkiezingen door aan populistisch ongenoegen te appelleren in de drie Rust Belt staten Michigan, Pennsylvania, en Wisconsin, die voorheen democratisch stemden. Wanneer er in deze staten 100.000 stemmen anders gevallen waren had Trump het kiescollege en het presidentschap verloren.

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