‘Trumpism’ unavoidable new norm, research concept for world

By Zhang Tengjun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/2 19:38:14

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US President Donald Trump was chosen Time's Person of the Year 2016 and dubbed "President of the Divided States of America." If the influence of Trump's election victory was mainly inside the US then, his impact has spread worldwide after entering the oval office. Looking back at international politics in 2017, one of the things that attracted the most attention is the formation of "Trumpism."

Since Trump took office in January 2017, he kept his erratic way and advanced many domestic and foreign policies that fly against tradition and reflect significantly for his character. Although the Trump administration once denied the existence of Trumpism, his performance shows that the US is no longer what it was and will only be the Americans' US. The world can only adapt to such a US, not the other way around.

Through his series of actions, from his inauguration speech to visiting the Middle East, from his speech in Warsaw to addressing the UN General Assembly, from his Asia trip to the National Security Strategy, Trump clarified his view about the current world order and the status of the US, and his blueprint for the future. Trumpism has come into shape.

From the National Security Strategy report, Trumpism has two parts: domestic and international. Domestically, the report's core is to protect homeland security and US people, and promote economic prosperity. Internationally, Trump intends to strengthen military force to reach peace through strength and meanwhile use other methods to increase the US international influence.

Perhaps it is more suitable to show the character of Trumpism with the name of a book on the New York Times bestseller list: Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher.

Two factors lead to the formation of Trumpism. First, populism. It is the origin of Trumpism. The discontent with Washington's elite politics affected the representative of the pro-establishment camp, Hillary Clinton. After Trump came to power, he catered to the demands of populism, made politically wrong policies, lashed the mainstream media and pro-establishment forces of the two parties.

Second, nationalism. The core of Trumpism is America first, in other words, domestic affairs first. Trumpism's primary and major consideration is to put national interests above international. Trump protects domestic industry and employment. Diplomatically, he opposes globalization and the unfair international order. Socially, he tightens immigration. All these are typical characteristics of nationalism.

Trumpism is created and built by him alone. Yet Trumpism doesn't equal isolationism as Trump is not an isolationist, but mainly a conservative. Domestically, such conservatism emphasizes the role of tradition, language and culture in social cohesion. It is different from modern conservatism or liberalism.

Trumpism opposes the US cognition of the world order after World War II. Traditionally, people think of the US as the initiator and dominator of post-WWII international order and responsible for applying the order globally so that different countries can comply with US leadership. But Trumpism throws away the fantasy of making the free world order universal and brings the US back to a traditional sovereign state. It implies a return of power politics to international politics.

No matter what disputes Trumpism causes and how long it can last or even the possibilities of a step down, we should realize that Trumpism has come into being and may be the reality that we need to face for a long time. The rise of Trumpism is not accidental. It represents an end of the US' past era and the fact that our understanding of US politics is no longer accurate. Trump is not guided by traditional foreign policy schools or international relations theories, but follows his instinct about the US and the world. In this sense, our understanding of Trump should not become stereotyped.

Trumpism is the most important transformation that the US has faced since the end of the Cold War and its influence will go beyond Trump's four or eight-year presidency. As Trumpism goes ahead, its influence and destruction will also grow. How to understand the new norm of US politics and handle Trumpism will be a major research subject for the whole world. If there is anything comforting, I would say it has been only one year since Trump took office and there is still time.

The author is an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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