Opinion: a country on the brink of disintegration | Opinion | DW | 18.07.2016
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Opinion: a country on the brink of disintegration

The US is struggling to find peace. Once again, police officers were shot and again, people fear unrest. DW's Ines Pohl looks at what is happening in America, and what it means for the presidential election campaign.

Things are looking ominous in the United States. The country is proof of how quickly democratic societies can get out of whack. The forces of globalization can tear apart the familiar political order. It is a world in which people seek refuge in national socialism and can no longer find peace in the frenzy of the digital world.

Cause and effect is no longer analyzed like it ought to be. Instead, a person to blame is quickly found, scapegoats are named. The world is split into "good and bad", into "us and them."

The rich world must share

Reality has become stressful, simple answers no longer exist and fair analysis will always come to the conclusion that the rich world must share. The underprivileged no longer want to peacefully watch what's going on - that's why the mood has become more aggressive between the different cultures, religions and colors of skin in the US, a country of immigration.

That's why people are shot in broad daylight, students and police officers alike. Of course, the lenient weapons laws are part of it. And it's true that racism, something many people had thought the country had overcome, still plays an enormous role.

The problem has yet another dimension. The country's usual order is in danger of dissolving. The people are no longer prepared to accept the consequences of the new world order. Politicians - along with major institutions, unions, state officials and police officers - can't seem to come up with credible solutions.

Setting the stage

Traveling across the US in 2016 reveals a country turning its back on reality. It is fitting that a man who was once very successful reality TV star is waiting in the wings to become the next US president.

People escape to the virtual world, posing for photos on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other social media. You can see one-year-olds making faces when they see a camera. Young people go to bars on a Saturday evening, but they don't talk to each other. Instead they stand side-by-side, posing for photos that get posted immediately.

Modern reality is turning into a stage used to promote lives that often don't measure up to the real world. Studies show that many people only feel they've had a restaurant experience, a walk on the beach or a family dinner if they've posted photos and videos online. The same is true for the memorial site at the Dallas police station where people hugged and cried only when filmed by a camera.

Donald Trump has opted for this staged reality, including the dream castles on his golf courses, the gold faucets in Trump Tower, the sprayed-on tan and the fake hair. He has to because he lacks substance. He knows how because he learned early on how to seduce people. And he's so successful because so many people would much rather dream about the past than work for the future.

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