Political failure to address people’s worries

What happened in the US this week should open the eyes of all those who had thought that a person like Donald Trump would never be voted for as president. The Brexit vote in June has shown the world that nothing is certain – so many people thought that the British would not be that “stupid” to vote “Leave”, but that is what a bit more than half of them did in the end. And now – 60 million US voters supported Donald Trump: A person with considerably less political experience than his opponent Hillary Clinton, extremely divisive, racist, sexist and a hothead. Not necessarily character traits that would make a good leader for the world’s most powerful country.

I am not trying to explain why Trump won. The English newspaper “The Guardian” published a piece on the views of six Trump supporters, a really interesting read:


Being fed up with Washington and clientele politics of which they see Hillary Clinton being a fundamental part of, the loss of decently paid manufacturing jobs, Obamacare, government tyranny of rising taxes and the minimum wage, maybe even taking away the right to bear arms – all these were arguments why those people voted against Clinton. He tells you what he thinks, he knows how to make deals, he will revive the American dream – that were reasons why they supported Trump.

He has to do a lot, though, to revive the American dream, that has been in agony for the last 30 years. As the New York Times pointed out: “By 2013, the median American household, after adjusting for inflation, was earning less than it did in 1989.” In the same time, the fortunate have gotten richer, though: “In 1978, the chief executives of America’s big companies took home 30 times the pay of their average workers; in 2013, that multiplier was 296.” The financial crisis of 2008 has hit the poor and the middle class so much harder than the wealthy. If Donald Trump with a net worth of 3.7 billon dollars according to Forbes is the right person to correct this, can be questioned – and remains to be seen.

Governments all over the world should take the frustrations of their citizens seriously. They should explain well their actions, but also the limits of certain politics. It is not an easy task, as people like simple answers, even if they might not be realistic; that tendency seems to get stronger, the more complex our world is getting. Demagogues like Trump abuse these unaddressed worries. The Obama administration’s failure to really deal with the underlying causes of these frustrations has paved the way for a non-politician taking over the White House.