PARIS – The word “trump,” according to the dictionary, is an alteration of the word triumph. And because Donald Trump, the US presidential candidate, appears likely to become the nominee of the Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, we owe it to ourselves to ask in what sense and for whom he represents a triumph.
One thinks of a segment of the American population angered by the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, a group that is now feeling vengeful. And one also thinks of the white supremacist, segregationist, nativist strain represented by former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, whose noisy support Trump was so hesitant to reject last week and for whose constituency Trump may be a make-or-break candidate.
One easily gets the sense, when trying to take seriously what little is known about the Trump platform, of a country turning in on itself, walling itself off, and ultimately impoverishing itself by chasing away the Chinese, Muslims, Mexicans, and others who have contributed to the vast melting pot that the most globalized country on the planet has alchemized, in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, into prodigious wealth.
But, as is so often the case with the United States, there is in the Trump phenomenon an element that extends beyond the American national scene. So one is tempted to ask whether Trumpism might not also be the harbinger – or perhaps even the apotheosis – of a truly new episode in world politics.