"Back then Trump was just practicing"

"Back then Trump was just practicing"

Foreign Policy Lunch at the International Club Berlin on the US presidential election campaign

Text: Philip Zettl | Policy Officer


Unless the situation changes completely unexpectedly, the US is facing a repeat of the last presidential election under different circumstances - this time with Joe Biden as president and Donald Trump as his challenger. However, the daily lives of the two candidates could not be more different, reported Tagesspiegel correspondent Juliane Schäuble, speaking from Washington D.C.: "Donald Trump appears in court in New York for the third day in a row for hush money payments, while Joe Biden visits the Kennedy family in Philadelphia and wrestles with Congress over aid for Ukraine."

However, contrary to what the media is saying, the country is not yet fully in the election campaign, much is still in flux, including the potentially decisive election issues. However, it is clear that it will be close, probably "49 to 51 percent", because in the end the election will be decided in three to seven swing states - states that do not traditionally vote Republican or Democrat - and the prevailing issues there.

The economy traditionally plays an important role in the US election campaign. "It's the economy, stupid", quoted the director of the Aspen Institute, Stormy-Annika Mildner, a bon mot from former US President Bill Clinton. Thanks to Biden's good policies, the US economy is already doing much better than Germany, the unemployment rate is low, inflation is falling and economic growth is high. Nevertheless, the situation is perceived much more negatively by many, partly because many sections of the population are not participating in the upturn. While Biden stands for increased costs for real estate, food, health and education in the eyes of quite a few Americans, Trump is "associated with the good pre-Covid times in a kind of small amnesia".

What can we expect from a second Trump presidency? "Back then, Trump was just practicing, he came from outside. This time, the conservative revolution will be better prepared," predicted Schäuble. Conservative think tanks are already preparing lists with the most important executive orders for the first days in office and with candidates for the many new government posts to be filled. Mildner also assumes that, thanks to the experiences of the last presidency, Trump will govern much more thoroughly this time. If the Heritage Foundation had its way, for example, up to 50,000 federal civil servants who are regarded as members of a Deep State would be replaced. Many democratic procedures would be undermined in order to strengthen the president in the fight against the so-called Deep State. International cooperation would be massively restricted in favor of an America First policy: "We would survive all of this, including the USA, but it would be much harder to contain a President Trump this time."

Regardless of who wins the race in the end, the world is unlikely to become a more peaceful place. The international focus will increasingly be on the Indo-Pacific region. Germany and the European Union should therefore prepare themselves and work together more, for example in arms policy, and communicate better what they are already doing, for example in Ukraine. This is hardly known in the USA, said the Tagesspiel correspondent. Too often she sees national delegations visiting Washington instead of EU delegations. The Aspen Institute Director took a similar view and added: "It is worth investing in the partnership with the USA - there is no better partner for us in the world!"

You might also be interested in


The three dimensions of the VBKI


We bring Berlin's decision-makers together



We support the debate on the future of the city


We are committed to the city and its people