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Column door Peter van der Heiden | Ma 07|11|16 Trump vs Clinton

Trump vs Clinton
Topicality lecture by American Studies scientist Markha Valenta and philosopher Evert van der Zweerde
Maandag 7 november 2016 | 12.45 - 13.30 uur |Cultuurcafé RU

Peter van der Heiden is parlementair historicus aan de Radboud Universiteit.

Out of over 300 million people in the US, the Republicans and Democrats managed to get the two most hated politicians of our times competing for the White House. If one of the two candidates were to be replaced with someone less contentious, that candidate would win in a landslide. But what puzzles me most is the fact that we have – according to many observers – the most qualified candidate ever in one corner, and the least qualified in the other – and there is still a one in three chance that the most qualified is going to get a knock out. It is entirely possible that someone who was First Lady for eight years – for almost twenty years if we count her time being married to the governor of Arkansas –, who was a US senator for eight years and was Secretary of State for four years, will lose to somebody who has no political CV at all. Her only negative assets are that she was married to Bill Clinton and that she was a bit sloppy with an email server – compared to her adversary who is accused of fraud, intimidation, and sexual misconduct – to name only the greatest hits of his upcoming court appearances. Still, she is the one with a trust issue.

How is that possible? How can an electorate even consider to put the fate of the nation – the fate of the world perhaps – in the tiny hands of someone without any experience and with a temper that would put a toddler to shame? Only in America, right? Wrong – to quote Donald Trump. Wrong, wrong, wrong! We see it everywhere, and with some sad nationalistic pride I can tell you: it’s a Dutch invention.

For almost two decades now the Dutch electorate votes for politicians like Donald Trump: outsiders to the system, or at least pretending to be outsiders to the system. Holland was way ahead when we elected the party of Pim Fortuyn in 2002, and the PVV ever since. We showed the world that there is a political space for anti-politicians like that, that it is possible to mobilize all the anger, fear and disappointment in a society and bring those raw emotions to power – sort of power, at the very least. ‘The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself’, said Franklin Roosevelt a long time ago. Yeah, tell that to the Trump fans that see their chances in society fade away, or the Wildersvoters that feel left behind.

Of course, Wilders pales when compared to Trump – but only in personality. His platform – racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, anti-globalization – does not differ that much from Trumps. But where Wilders wanted to shoot rebelling Moroccan youth – street terrorists, he called them – through the knees, Donald Trump wants to grab the attractive part of half his nation by the genitals; a curious dissimilarity, since Trump lives in a country where people actually get shot in numbers. Maybe it illustrates the difference between these two countries: where there is sexual freedom, you don’t talk about grabbing women, where there’s freedom to bear arms, you don’t talk about shooting.

I am very excited for tomorrow. Not only about who will win this election – but even more about what will happen next. The US is torn apart like never before – and whoever will win tomorrow has to fix it, but will never be able to succeed. The elections in 2020, those will be the elections that count. In that election we will see a new Democratic Party, changed under the influence of the Bernie Sanders movement and its millennials, and a new Republican Party, trying to rise from the ashes that having Trump as their standard-bearer created. Tomorrow is really not more than a prequel to that election, that will shape America for the decades to come.

Not an entirely unimportant prequel, though. Tomorrow will be decided if America lets its women be grabbed by the pussy, or if the pussy-grabber is grabbed by the balls – although I would be surprised if he has any.