August 18, 2017

Letter From Paris: The Trump Phenomenon – a View From Europe     

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

Editor’s Note:  With a pivotal day happening today in respect of the Republican Presidential Primary, we feel this latest article by our columnist from Paris is perfectly timed.  Nicole Prévost Logan lives in Essex, CT, during the warmer months and winters in Paris, France.  For these reasons, she is ideally placed to write a commentary on the ‘Trump Phenomenon’  through European eyes … but with American understanding.  She also she has a lifetime of diplomatic service behind her and we venture to suggest that she understands the complexities of foreign diplomacy significantly better than several of the current US Presidential candidates!

Public opinion in Europe continues to follow the US 2016 elections in real time.  The interest went up a notch after “Super Tuesday” — for election analysts, it is a campaign unlike any other.  They describe it as a contest between moderates and radicals rather than between Democrats and Republicans.  Donald Trump’s performance intrigues every one and is being closely scrutinized by both seasoned and brand new election-watchers.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Trump does not fit in with the traditional image of a GOP candidate.  Commentators here label him as a “national populist” combined with a vision of the American dream, i.e., you too can become rich like me.  French ambassador Bujon de l’Etang writes that Trump is not a real Republican since he advocates an interventionist government which would take such protectionist measures as taxes on imports.

Journalist Andre Bercoff, interviewed on France-Inter, described Trump’s campaign as an “Uberization” of the society — or elimination of the middle man and rejection of the Establishment and along with that, of course, Washington.

According to the French observers, Trump is a demagogue and as such, does not want to leave anyone by the side of the road.  His discourse is full of contradictions and vascillates, depending on the situation.

Just a few examples …  he wants to build a wall to stop mass immigration from the south but not at the expense of the Hispanic votes, and besides, he is now leaning toward selective immigration in order to attract brains.

Is he pro-life or not ? The answer is yes and no.

To win over the workers, he will help them by stopping the outsourcing of jobs.  He feels the middle class has not profited from the growth of the economy stating that only 1 percent of the population did.

He does not seem to have worked out a foreign policy with any resemblance of the subtlety of diplomacy.

Thus far, his black and white remarks are rather frightening.

His tax plan is a mixture of unrealistic and sound ideas.  He thinks that hedge fund managers should be taxed more and forced to repatriate the billions of dollars they have stashed away in off-shore accounts.  He declared that couples earning less than $5,000 per month should not be taxed .

How long will Donald Trump be able to keep his lead in the race ?  If he does, would he have a lasting power?   An analyst here commented that Silvio Berlusconi (the former Italian Prime Minister) – a very comparable politician – lasted eight years in power.

Trump is the mirror of the rising populist movements in many countries: Viktor Orban in Hungary, increasing populist opposition in several German ‘Landers’, 40 percent of favorable votes for the  ‘Front National’ in France,  Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and many others.  The surge of migrants is the main cause of the closing of borders within the European Union (EU).

Professor Nicole Gnesotto, Board President of the National Defense Graduate School, “It would be a catastrophic scenario if  the next presidential elections were to bring populist leaders in the US, France and Germany.”

Nicole LoganAbout the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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