Donald Trump speaks in Indiana Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Long Reads

Trumpism: A New Era in World Politics?

What do the coup attempt in Turkey, Donald Trump’s US presidential candidacy, the Brexit referendum, and the rise of populist parties in France, Germany, and elsewhere have in common? They all reflect deep anxieties among many citizens about the functioning of their democracies and the openness of their societies.

BERLIN – The short-lived coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan failed in large part because Turks poured into the streets in their tens of thousand to oppose a military takeover of their country. The fact that so many would willingly risk their lives for what they perceived as their “democracy” speaks well of their courage. But it is also likely to reinforce Erdoğan’s troublesome understanding of what democracy is: a form of government in which the will of a popular majority is fully represented by him, and is to be implemented by him without regard for institutional or legal constraints.

Donald Trump’s campaign for the American presidency also seems to draw on this understanding of democracy. His recent praise of torture, his calls to exclude all Muslims from entering the United States, and his attempted intimidation of a federal judge all speak to a contempt for law as a limit on what he believes a majority of Americans really want.

That so many US voters seem to agree with Trump raises a question that would have seemed utterly bizarre a year ago. Is the political system of the world’s mightiest power and oldest democracy in danger of going down an unstable, populist path? For most Project Syndicate contributors, the question is even broader. It would be easy to think of Trump, and of the reasons for his rise, as uniquely American. But while the particulars of his appeal – from his boasts of almost supernatural entrepreneurial skill to his defense of America’s lax gun laws – take their cue from the political culture of the United States, they also highlight the parallels between his rhetoric and values and those of populist strongmen like Erdoğan elsewhere.

To continue reading, please subscribe to On Point.

To access On Point, log in or register now now and read two On Point articles for free. For unlimited access to the unrivaled analysis of On Point, subscribe now.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/cYQlybm;
  1. Trump visits China Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images

    China’s New World Order?

    • Now that Chinese President Xi Jinping has solidified his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, he will be able to pursue his vision of a China-led international order.

    • But if China wants to enjoy the benefits of regional or even global hegemony in the twenty-first century, it will have to prove itself ready to accept the responsibilities of leadership.
  2. Paul Manafort Alex Wong/Getty Images

    The Fall of the President’s Men

    • There can no longer be any doubt that Donald Trump is the ultimate target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

    • But even if Mueller doesn’t catch Donald Trump in a crime, the president will leave much human and political wreckage behind.
  3. Painted portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and late communist leader Mao Zedong Greg Baker/Getty Images

    When China Leads

    For the last 40 years, China has implemented a national strategy that, despite its many twists and turns, has produced the economic and political juggernaut we see today. It would be reckless to assume, as many still do in the US, Europe, and elsewhere, that China’s transition to global preeminence will somehow simply implode, under the weight of the political and economic contradictions they believe to be inherent to the Chinese model.