On November 9th 1989, the modern world began a new era with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Today, exactly 27 years after said historical event, the North Americans have chosen a president whose main known proposals are the building of a wall against immigration and boundaries against trade and economic freedom.
The United States have proved their strength as a society and the solidity of their institutions in traumatic moments such as the 11S terrorist attacks or the 2008 financial crisis, so the profound division of this presidential campaign can and must be outdone as soon as possible.
Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party must think deeply about the reasons that have given Trump the victory, but especially about the historical responsibility that they are coping with. The Republican Party, whose internal division allowed the irruption of the now elected president in politics, has obtained a substantial majority both in Congress and Senate that must serve to promote the required reforms, but also to guarantee the separation of powers and to exercise their “check and balances”, limits and controls to the presidential powers, that nowadays seem more needed than ever.
On its side, the Democratic Party is deeply harmed by this election. America needs a moderate democratic party like the one that has participated in the broad consensus. If the main consequence of Hillary Clinton’s defeat makes the party heel to the populist radical left, just like it has happened to the Labour Party in the United Kingdom and other traditionally social democratic parties, it would be a fatal error. It is desirable that the responsible people get it right in this serious crisis and get to resolve it urgently.
Those who point out that Trump has won because he has just been voted by white men over 65 years old, coming from the “deep America” and with low levels of education are wrong. It is an absurd simplification. Among his almost sixty million voters there are men and women of different races, religions, origins, education and condition, and they are a perfect reflection of the diversity of the United States and the frustration caused by the failed policies of Obama’s administration in every sector of society. The best reflection is Trump’s victory in a state with profound Hispanics roots such as Florida, despite his well-known and condemnable comments against Latin immigrants.
Since World War II, the United States have been a key country in the great advances and international balances. The development of the civilised world has gone together with globalisation and trade opening, and these have been impulse by the most powerful country in the world. The bad management by Obama’s administration of the diverse crisis concerning countries in the North of Africa and the Middle East are the vivid example that, when the United States stop leading, there are other international actors, less engaged with democracy, who will occupy the vacuum. And the consequences are usually disastrous for everybody.
We hope that the candidate Trump, loquacious and outspoken, will give way to a new presidential Trump, controlled and reflective, who will set aside the protectionist approaches and will seriously bet on making, just like his electoral slogan, “America great again”. The world needs it, and the United States cannot remain aside or address solitarily challenges as the resolution of the crisis in the Middle East, the menace of global terrorism, the nuclear plethora or the immense social, economic, political and cultural changes derived from the technological revolution we are immersed in.
Trump has no other way but taking on the global leadership that fits him to make America great. On the European side, he should find the appropriate partners to strengthen an Atlantic community based on values and not just interests. In the recent history of the United States, Donald Trump has some good examples of presidents who knew how to globally leader leaning on the Atlantic connection, and he also knows the consequences of bad policies adopted by the outgoing administration regarding very different countries such as Syria, Iran, Cuba, Libya and Venezuela. Trump himself, the American people and the rest of the world have more at stake. We hope he guesses the right way.
José Herrera is FAES director of Internacional