Yesterday’s vote expressed the verdict of Americans on the most unique elections in the recent history of the country, that have seen an outsider creep inside a political system that suddenly seemed hopelessly anachronistic and mired in a deep crisis.
The 2016 U.S. elections are the last evidence of the physiological crises of democracies under the weight of transnational liberalism that has battered the middle and working classes and deprived voters of authority.
The “dystopian” and post- political rise of Trump has embodied the visceral reaction to an alienating global order.
Precisely for this reason, it is a mistake to read it as the American idiosyncrasy. Especially in the continent that, in the last few months, has set barricades against refugee women and children, lived the isolationist triumph of Brexit, sealed trains in Hungary, saw the rise of Viktor Orbán, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage and Matteo Salvini and set the gravestone on Schengen and the Community project on the sealed borders of Ventimiglia.
Trump is probably more dangerous than any of these issues but the rancor that he has stirred up in the de-industrialized rust belt, using fear and divisions as a demagogic tool legitimized by Trumpism, is the same that today reverberates from Moscow to the Po valley, to the Midwest swing states.
What at the beginning had seemed to many a vintage reality anomaly or a blunder destined to self-correction, is revealed to be a symptom of a broader phenomenon, the new nationalist era that could also include the rise to power of Temer in Brasilia and Duterte in Manila.
Defying the odds, the populist post Berlusconian candidate has taken control of the national conservative party and dragged American politics out of all tracks with a haunting yet effective demagogic campaign. The first to learn the lesson the hard way were the defeated Republican candidates knocked down like bowling pins in the primary elections by a candidate who, in a few weeks, took possession of the GOP under the incredulous eyes of the party’s establishment.
The expropriation was enshrined during the convention, expressed in the tense smiles inside the sports hall of Cleveland, and the rallies and slogans of Trump’s “insurgents” outside. The leader of the Bikers for Trump group, Chris Cox, assured me that in January he would bring 1,000 Harley Davidson bikes to Washington to celebrate the inauguration of his darling. The tattooed centurions and the “patriots,” carrying showy weapons at the waist, looked like pirates boarding a system that had ignored them for too long. Barbarians ready to rove the conquered palaces of Washington with the ardor shown by the Soviets in the Winter Palace.
In other words, guardians of a “revolutionary” ardor that Donald Trump has ridden to the doors of the Oval Office.
In recent days, Trump’s endorsement by Slavoj Žižek has caused plenty of controversy and uproar online. In fact, the Slovenian philosopher merely pointed out that between the socially moderate liberalism of a congenital insider like Hillary Clinton and the “destructive” capsize of his opponent, the latter expresses the more plausibly revolutionary impetus to the established system.
What Žižek called a “desperate recognition” is the assessment that, between the two programs, the moderate and prudent management of a twilight globalization embodied in Clinton’s plan is the most harmful. Žižek has given voice to those who wonder at heart if the ominous nihilism, full of isolationism and xenophobia, expressed today in many parts of the world, may be the cleansing fire that needs to be crossed in order to build on the ruins of the late liberal democracy something new.
Trump, for better and especially for worse, has expressed with his cathartic “f**k” to the system, a Weltanschauung which the progressive left movements in the world cannot help but continue to compete. And that means, as happened in America, to decide whether to support imperfect candidates as a barrier to bursting disasters or neglect the strategic rearguard battles.
And again, the struggle is either to reform the late capitalism from the inside, like Robert Reich urges to do, or to look for “external” alternative, as proposed by Cornel West. And in any case, determine which strategies should be adopted (environmentalism, localism, local commitment?) in a post-ideological, post-factual, post-political, basically post-democratic landscape.
One certainty came out of the U.S. polls: questions will arise more urgently in the next four years, not only in America but also beyond.