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Opinion

Opinion: Only a taste of things to come

The recent clashes between supporters and opponents of Donald Trump result from a political strategy that could lead to dangerous frictions in the USA. Ines Pohl in Washington gives her opinion.

This election campaign is starting to get out of hand. After campaign rallies were marred by fighting between supporters and opponents of the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, even President Barack Obama has now intervened, on Saturday publicly calling on the Republican Party to exercise moderation.

That is, of course, nothing but a pious wish - and Obama knows it, too. For the Republican leadership has long since lost any control over these primaries. For much too long, they underestimated Trump, letting him do as he liked. The opportunity was missed to penalize his racist and contemptuous comments and to exclude him from TV debates in time to allow another promising candidate to become established.

Susceptible followers

It is becoming more and more apparent what kind of a campaign Trump is waging. Donald Trump wants an isolated America, an America that has abandoned its democratic principles, places people under general suspicion because of their religious affiliation, recognizes torture as a valid instrument and revokes all international obligations.

Pohl Ines Kommentarbild App

DW's Ines Pohl

Trump champions this new world order in inflammatory speeches that do not reach only the people who count as the losers in current US society. It is frightening how many followers he has even among well-situated, successful businesspeople. And it is frightening how xenophobic this United States is in 2016, how little united, how deeply divided.

Over the past few weeks, I have attended various of Donald Trump's rallies. And it was only a question of time until his indirect call to stand up against a multicultural and truly liberal social system ended in violence. Thousands cheered him on when he said that counter-demonstrators should be hit in the face - or when he said that such people would have once been carried out on stretchers.

The USA leads the way

Whether we're talking jeans, music or iPhones - the United States is generally seen as a trendsetter in many areas, not just that of consumer articles, but of social change as well. This should give pause for thought to those politicians who play all too complacently with fire to achieve short-term political successes.

Germany's constitution is one of the best bulwarks against a populist, xenophobic type of politics such as that advocated by Donald Trump. And the German constitution enshrines not just the right to asylum, but also, and explicitly, the protection of minorities.

Anyone who, like me, is traveling through the USA during these weeks can only hope that German politicians are closely watching what is happening here. Yes, it is not only possible to learn something from Donald Trump - it is even imperative to do so.

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