BERLIN – On the 27th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States elected a president who plans to build an even bigger wall, this time on the border with Mexico. Now, President-elect Donald Trump must decide whether he wants to plow forward with his divisive agenda or actually advance America’s best interests.
There are strong parallels between Trump’s victory and the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union last June. Republicans interviewed after the election result was known looked almost as shocked as the architects of the UK’s “Leave” campaign on the morning after the referendum. But no one was more dumbfounded than those on the losing side, which in both cases had been widely expected to come out on top.
One effect of the Brexit vote that has already emerged in the US as well is a surge in hate crimes, including an alarming number of incidents being reported at schools and on college campuses. Trump’s win has emboldened some of his supporters to move from the anonymity of abusing targets on social media to accosting them openly on the street.
This is not surprising: Trump’s campaign was marked by nearly 18 months of vitriol, aimed not just against his opponent, but also at US government institutions, the press, and many segments of the US population, particularly immigrants, refugees, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Muslims. He attracted the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan and surrounded his campaign with the white nationalists of the so-called alt-right.