Americans believe in democracy

US President Donald Trump and his chief strategist Stephen Bannon want to put even more strain on the relationship between politics and business, which is already out of balance in the USA, in order to give the "invisible hand" of the market even more room for maneuver. However, further deregulation will lead to the legacy, i.e. oligopolization of the economy (especially in the areas of the military, oil / gas and financial industries). This affects economic performance - less competition leads to less performance - and endangers democracy, especially since the economic powers also determine the rules of the game according to their own interests. The legitimacy of American democracy has already been eroded: Most Americans think that a few have too much influence and they distrust established politics

People react either with abstinence by withdrawing from political events (such as the African American population, who despite all their efforts, were less enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton), or with protests. So the libertarian, even subversive tea party movement arose as a protest reaction to the policies of the George W. Bush administration, which came to the aid of Wall Street with an 800 billion dollar bank bailout program while it was the Main Street, the common people, neglected

The displeasure of the people was like by political entrepreneurs Breitbart-Chef Stephen Bannon, who advised Trump as chief strategist during the election campaign and now also acts as presidential advisor in the White House, but directed against the state, which allegedly failed again by regulating too much. The supporters of the Tea Party want to continue deregulating and block the already weak welfare state until further notice, as long as they cannot abolish it entirely

Anyone who considers the billions that the sponsors of the so-called tea party movement have invested alone could lose faith in American democracy. "We have the best democracy money can buy." With this self-deprecating description, Americans sometimes reply to critical questions from visitors from the Old World who question Washington's political life and keep (ironic) distance

More and more Americans are withdrawing from social and political life. Anyone who thinks that he cannot change his lot through his voice or protest chooses to withdraw from the community, in drastic cases through crime, drugs or suicide

Today, many Americans no longer have the opportunity to participate in social and economic life, let alone in political events. Measured with the "democracy index" of the Economist the US has fallen far behind in an international comparison. The former role model in terms of democracy has already slipped into the group of incomplete democracies with considerable malfunctions. The main reason for the downgrade was the "further erosion of trust in the government and the elected representatives." The situation is particularly problematic when it comes to the criterion of »political participation«

Why is that? More and more Americans lack the basic socio-economic equipment that would enable them to choose from the unlimited range of goods and services available for only a few. Their personal hardship and poor education prevent them from finding work to make a living. Their miserable situation also discourages them from becoming politically active, especially since they have the feeling that none of the "detached" politicians are interested in them anyway. It is telling that a populist, even a demagogue like Donald Trump, had to come to address many of these non-voters and get them excited about politics again - by articulating in their language fundamental problems that the established politicians had overlooked or ignored for too long

A democracy under pressure

Political representatives should, according to the meaning of the word, represent the will of the people. It is not necessary for them to be representative in the statistical sense. It is also conceivable that the representatives of the people can jump over their own social shadow and stand up for the common good that is often quoted. But the majority of MPs and senators working in the United States today are millionaires who no longer understand the concerns of the people they represent. Accordingly, they are also rejected by the population

According to surveys, the approval rating for Congress has long since sunk to an all-time low. Eight in ten Americans dislike the way MPs and Senators do their jobs (Gallup poll, July 8-12, 2015)

Even if they still had empathy for the social conditions of their voters, they would first have to keep an eye on the needs of their donors who finance their increasingly expensive election campaigns. This is not without concern, because in a democracy all power should emanate from the people and not from those who can most loudly assert their right to expression, guaranteed by the Supreme Court, in the form of campaign donations

If one looks at the degree of integrity of elections, then according to a calculation by the democracy and election researcher at Harvard University Pippa Norris with the 52nd place out of 153 countries, the USA is not exactly to be found among the model students. Even Croatia, Greece, Argentina, Mongolia and South Africa are now ahead of the former model democracy, with Germany in seventh place

Is criticized v. a. that interest groups and wealthy individuals exert massive influence on the elections, that electoral districts are politically motivated and that Afro-Americans and Latinos are discriminated against when registering for elections, as well as the low turnout. The fact that voter queues are still forming in many places in the US elections is due to the inadequate technical equipment - reminiscent of countries in the »Third World«. None of this fits into the self-image of a high-tech nation, according to political scientist Wolfgang Merkel (WZB)

Potemkin facades conceal the real situation

We must therefore question the clichés and illusions of the "land of unlimited possibilities" that are still in the minds of many. We shouldn't be blinded by the glossy statistics of the business media. They are often Potemkin facades, at best average values ​​that hide the underlying inequalities and structural problems. The situation is not as miserable as Donald Trump explained to his voters for electoral reasons. But it is also not as rosy as it is drawn by good ambassadors from the New World, by American "Public Diplomacy" (formerly known as propaganda) and by admirers on the old continent

Donald Trump is also more appearance than reality. He learned his trade in various reality TV shows and created a fictional character, a media figure of himself. Every American knows Trump's reality TV show The apprentice, in which he fired incompetent workers with the sentence "You are fired!" Trump himself is an icon for success, although he has had many failures in real life. Regardless of this, he maintains the media image of a successful and powerful businessman who can put America back on the road to success. His political success in American media democracy was inevitable

Donald Trump is not the main problem, however. Rather, the entrepreneur has understood how to use not only the social misery of many of his voters, but also fundamental deficits in American economics and politics for his own purposes. And Germany also has these problems, albeit not to such an extreme extent. Anyone who compares the meteoric rise of Donald Trump and the so-called "Alternative for Germany" (AfD) sees one thing in common despite all the differences: the dissatisfaction of many people with the political class

According to William A. Galston, architect of the two electoral victories of Bill Clinton and mastermind of the Democrats, the "liberal-democratic social contract" that has been in place since the end of World War II and based on economic prosperity, trust in government, has been called into question in the western world has been lost. But the problem is even bigger: In the USA one of the essential foundations of democracy, namely the promise of political equality, is eroded when a small upper class - the one percent often quoted, or on closer inspection even only 0.1% - the political rules of the game in favor of one's own economic interests. The market power and the political power of a few are responsible for the fact that the “liberal-democratic social contract” in the USA or the “social market economy” of European characteristics are in danger

Liberal democracy is under pressure. Neither in America nor in Europe does the state manage to make its citizens feel safe. The feeling of material security, the feeling that as many as possible will get something from economic prosperity, has also been lost. However, it would be a prerequisite for citizens to support the state and established politicians. The legitimation crisis that resulted is evident from the fact that populists on both sides of the Atlantic can exploit dissatisfaction: Trump in the USA, the AfD in Germany. The election strategists of the AfD or the French Front National of Marine Le Pen will analyze Donald Trump's recipe for success very carefully and try to imitate it

Although the Germans are doing more or less well compared to other Europeans, many are justifiably worried about their future. According to a survey by the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy from June 1 to 22, 2016, eight out of ten Germans consider “social justice” to be particularly important. Will the (social) democrats find the right political concepts, in other words: also words, in order to give their citizens confidence in effective politics and the feeling of social security again?