Does Donald Trump really believe what he says?

Democracy, my friends, means accepting the verdict of the voter – but you refuse to accept it.

By TUVIA TENENBOM
November 22, 2016 20:41
Donald Trump

Donald Trump. (photo credit: REUTERS/JOE RAEDLE/POOL)

‘President Donald J. Trump.”

Yes, that’s right. Get over it and move on. The man won, fair and square. Maybe not in terms of the popular vote, but he won the majority of the states and he won more than the required threshold of 270 electoral votes. The people have spoken and nobody can deny them their right to do so. That’s democracy. If you don’t like the result, do your best so that next time your candidate wins, but for now this is it, this is reality and it’s time you accepted it.

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These days my in-boxes are full of letters, some written by personal friends asking me to join them in attempting to force members of the Electoral College to do away with the will of the people and vote Hillary Clinton into office instead. I have other friends, people not busy writing, marching on US streets demanding that Trump, aka “The Donald,” not assume office.

I read their words and I watch them marching and I ask myself: are they Democrats?

As far as I can tell, they are as democratic as the former German Democratic Republic.

At the moment I’m in Germany where, according to some polls, four percent of the people are pro-Trump. Four percent.

Why are the Germans so anti-Trump? I’m not really sure. On election night I attended one of the most exclusive election- night parties in Berlin, where I was surrounded by people, almost none American, eagerly waiting to watch Trump crushed into a million pieces in front of their delighted eyes.

The party served a prefect opportunity to try to figure out why the Germans think as they do, and I interviewed some of them or, to be more exact I tried to interview some of them, but I didn’t get very far.

The party, organized by CNN, n-tv and Stern at Bertelsmann’s, was packed with the elite of the elite of German society. But strangely, at least to me, almost no one was willing to speak for the record. Why? I have no idea. Eventually, and after much prodding on my part, some finally did. I mean, kind of. An editor-in-chief of one of Germany’s leading media was willing to share his thoughts with me. I put my iPhone on the table between us and started recording, which was fine with him.

He was against The Donald, he told me, because he believes Trump is a replica of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and if he’s elected to office America’s freedom of the press will cease to exist. I mentioned to him that freedom of the press in America is an integral part of the American Constitution and asked him why he thought that a president, any president, would be capable of enforcing anything that’s so blatantly illegal. The powerful editor-in-chief didn’t like my question, and promptly stopped the interview. “I don’t want to talk anymore,” he said. I sat down to interview another person, the CEO of another giant German media company, and he ended up being quite mean. When I asked him a question after he had said something that made no sense to me, he yelled: “You don’t let me talk,” got up and left. Just like that.

As the evening finally ground to a close I asked myself: do these people, who declare themselves the gate keepers of free media in Germany, even understand the concept of free media? They want me to listen to them, write down what they say, but refuse to be challenged by questions. Is there any difference between them and Erdogan?

I’m surrounded by people, be it here in Germany or back home in the US, whom I don’t recognize anymore. They swear to me that they are the purest of democrats, but they act like the lowest of dictators. They pronounce themselves flag bearers of free press, but have huge difficulties practicing what they preach.

How did they all descend so low?

Perhaps their problem is that they concentrate too much on the personas of Clinton and Trump but forget that the election had practically very little to do with Clinton and Trump and everything to do with the voters, the millions of people who propelled Trump to high office and dumped Clinton into the trash bin. The fact of the matter is that voters know neither Clinton nor Trump and when they cast their votes they did so based on the image that those two have created of themselves, and chose the image that they saw as their own mirror: Trump.

Millions upon millions of Americans chose a loud-mouthed real estate mogul and TV personality who not only resembled their self-image but was also the man who had freed them from various inhibitions that American elites – mostly on the coasts – had imposed on them. For many years now these elites have been telling people that nobody is better than anyone else, that everybody must accept everybody, that borders don’t mean much, that “nation” is a dirty word and “globalization” is the deepest desire of man. But deep down people don’t really agree, and when The Donald let his tongue loose, uttering loudly what they think privately, they immediately connected with him.

Does Trump really believe what he says? Hard to know. The Donald is a real estate mogul and a TV personality, a guy whose sole purpose in life is to sell dreams, even those that will never come true. Does he actually have a political agenda? Maybe yes, maybe no. But even if he does, the odds are that he will easily change any agenda for one more casino. Will he, as he had promised, move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem once he assumes office? If he gets to build a casino in it, he might; otherwise, I doubt it.

Democracy, my friends, means accepting the verdict of the voter – but you refuse to accept it. Maybe, just maybe, Americans voted against your candidate because they have realized that you are no more democratic than their candidate, and that the only real difference between the you two is that you have no casinos.

The writer is the author of three Spiegel Bestsellers in a row, whose book
The Lies They Tell will come out in January of 2017. Tuvia writes for various papers and is the artistic director of The Jewish Theater of New York.


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