– Commentary by the Chancellor –
As a university student, by chance, I met Donald Trump in the mid-90s at his Mar-a-Lago Club (I had just read his book) and spent 15 minutes talking with him in his office. Still under the impression of the book, I was expecting an American gentleman entrepreneur. But I was slightly disappointed. He had the air of an insurance broker, his suit was a bit too shiny for European standards, his hair – it was the same, and his demeanor had nothing that resembled that of a gentleman. I attributed all this to him being American and me being an arrogant European.
It was a demystifying event and I noted it as one of those lesser important events in my life and more of a fun anecdote to share with friends.
When the rumor spread that he was running for President, my meeting with him popped up in my mind. I had followed his career ups and downs casually in the news and my first thought was ‘what a great marketing strategy for the Trump brand, he will never make it to the preliminaries, but his brand will be in the news non-stop’. With Trump’s campaign gathering momentum and it becoming clear that he would make it to the preliminaries, my interest in the presidential election surged. I never considered him a serious contender, but now I wanted to hear what he had to say.
And then it became appalling – he has absolutely no content and is exclusively playing the fears of citizens. The term for this is demagogue – a political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason*.
What makes it so horrific is that the internet does not differentiate between false and true statements and makes it so easy to make false claims with no facts necessary to substantiate them and as we know – unhappy people have the tendency to believe what suits them – regardless if it is true or false (Take a guess why Trump primarily uses Twitter to communicate…).
Appealing to the fears of the citizens is a cheap and effective trick but also a very dangerous one. Just take a look at Germany’s history.
Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Donald Trump is Hitler, but our times are troubled enough and the last thing we need is an U.S. President that nourishes hate and ignorance.
Chancellor, New European College