By Cyril Vetter
Donald Trump has been a great President, so far. At least if you’re a European.
In June, I had the pleasure of traveling to Berlin with my friend James Carville, who gave a talk to the staff at the U.S. Embassy there. His comments were deliberately apolitical.
James talked about how impactful and important the work of career Foreign Service officers is to the U.S. and to the countries in which they are stationed. He compared career Foreign Service officers to career military personnel, both of whom have dedicated their lives to maintaining the interests, international prestige and involvement of our country.
We also had the opportunity to join up with an LSU Mass Communications study abroad group and both of us were impressed and humbled by LSU’s student presence and participation in world affairs.
And with that group of impressive young representatives of LSU we met Ulrich Brueckner, PhD, on the faculty of Stanford in Berlin and a specialist in European integration.
Herr Dr. Brueckner described in some detail how the election of Donald Trump, layered on the Brexit vote, worked to marginalize the right- and left-wing nationalist, white supremacist movements in Western Europe and move countries like France, Germany, Austria, Holland, et al, to the center and toward more moderate elected officials and a more moderate electorate and civil society.
So, in that sense, Trump has been the best thing to happen to European democracy since the Marshall Plan and the fall of the Berlin wall.
Europeans, watching the folly of our divisiveness, and learning from it, moved strongly to the center. They moved to moderation, to negotiation and to compromise (which after all, is the definition of politics.)
While here in our beloved America we are still riven by sometimes nonsensical culture war issues that at the end of the day, don’t amount to much in survival terms.
And the America that once straddled the world with its optimism, its aspirations, its welcoming attitude to dreamers, and entrepreneurs — the America that made possible Microsoft, Intel, Google, the iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, etc., ad infinitum — has now become the frightened fit-throwing baby, cowering in the corner of the crib.
That America is now afraid to participate in the global economy, led by a wall building bully. That America is afraid to compete, afraid to be a part of a competitive global economy and intent on bringing back relics of the past like coal mining.
That’s the same industry Trump once mocked as the effort of stupid people who couldn’t do what he did, which was inherit great wealth and almost squander it.
Much to my dismay, I have dear friends who still think this person is a president and not a demagogue and a bully. And as hard as I can, I hope they’re right and I’m wrong.
German Chancellor Merkel said recently that Europe is moving on. The world is moving on. America as a moral beacon, as a global leader, is now the butt of jokes. And Europe is fine with it because, as president, Trump has been the best thing to happen to European democracy since the Marshall Plan and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Europeans are together, moving toward the middle, toward compromise, toward consensus, toward civility and we are dealing with pettiness, backward thinking, and fear of the future.
Cyril Vetter is an attorney/businessman and a lifelong resident of Louisiana. He has written and produced books, music, film and television projects with a Louisiana cultural preservation theme.