The people who put Donald Trump into the Office of the President of the United States want security and solidarity, not creative destruction as the one liberalism is widely credited with; they want four solid walls of abode and a roof over their heads. If anything, in these American presidential elections, a convincing majority of voters have demonstrated that they want deeper solidarity with their own country and a greater order in their country than what liberals, Democrats, have been serving them so far.
At this juncture of this article I reflect on Joseph II, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire 1765 to 1790 and ruler of the Habsburg lands from 1780 to 1790 (relevant to Croatian historical “belonging”). He is often called a historical liberal hero; he strove to make the traditional society he ruled more liberal through a from-top-to-down revolution. “Everything for the people, nothing by the people” was his motto. Leaders of today’s liberal worlds seem to have similar motto through actions promoting their beliefs that common people should gain their life’s conventions through the trickle-down effect. In America, Trump’s call to people engagement to join in into “making America great again” shows that the “Josephinism” plan has now been rejected, and America’s liberal leaders are reeling with ugly non-acceptance of the American people’s majority vote, almost dismissing anyone who dared defy them as not knowing “diddly- squat” about anything in life.
Way back on 9 November 2016, in her concession speech, Hillary Clinton said one of her goals had been “breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams”. This, of course, is a dream of liberalism, which seeks freedom from any social or economic constraint and produces political elites and leaders who appear confident that they can navigate a deregulated society on all major issues. The results so far for the liberal track records across the world has in many ways contributed to widespread unrest of the ordinary citizen and his/her profound struggle to survive, to meet daily expenses and requirements of a decent living.
As the world witnessed in November 2016, an overwhelming part of America was simply not confident in the dreams and facets of life Hillary Clinton/Democrats pursued religiously. They voted convincingly for what Donald Trump/Republicans are offering and much of America as well as of the world appear in a state of suspended acceptance of the vote the American people had given.
It is no different in Croatia, the political and people camps are divided on Trump issues and, perhaps, for a small Country like Croatia, whose liberal governments or large proportion of liberalised members of non-liberal governments during the past decade and half, especially, had kept on that destructive political tradition from former communist Yugoslavia, which nurtured and pursued dependence on external forces and alliances rather reliance on own strengths and forces as primary benchmark in developing the newfound democracy as an independent country taking care of its own interests and people first. For Croatia, therefore, it stands to understanding that times were easier in many ways when the Democrats ruled from Washington; it’s the beast of communism/socialism that favours liberalism as opposed to patriotism and conservatism. The US Democrats want a stronger European Union and have invested a great deal of political steering, professional effort and financial support into such a Europe. Trump’s Republicans are unlikely to follow Democrats’ footsteps over Europe and he has announced as much. Trump talks of America first.
Croatia’s governments have and are investing a great deal of political and life-defining actions into relying on the European Union, as opposed to its own people. We cannot forget that a dismal 28% of Croatia’s voters voted Yes to Croatia’s EU membership in January 2012. Croatia has followed the path of US Democrat political waters as well as being a member of NATO. While there is no official statements regarding unconditional support for Trump, or lack of it, from Croatia’s government or the president that I could find, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic had said last week that Croatia has and will follow (subscribe to ?) US politics. How this outlook and orientation may change should Trump change the rules and paths of US engagement in Europe is anyone’s guess, however, Croatia’s president did visit the US during the week prior to the 20 January inauguration, reportedly seeking to establish some new ties with Trump’s incoming administration.
The uncertainties of Trump’s future moves, the liberal-led fear mongering, when it comes to Europe, do appear at this stage to expose current Croatian political/economic vulnerabilities. It is of no surprise that Croatia is divided on whether Trump is a good or a bad thing the same way every other country depending on previous US international engagement at various levels is. However, on balance, the political sentiments and allegiances as can be detected from the media and more numerous in the “against Trump” camp. That of course is a reflection of the liberalism and communism still pervading throughout Croatian institutions and public administration/customs avenues.
On many fronts Trump has announced a whole new world of possibilities that are in contrast to and on a collision course with liberalism. Without a doubt, while many try to paint him ridiculous and incompetent listening carefully to his inaugural speech one cannot avoid the conclusion that the man knows what he is talking about and is well aware of the rocky road, possibilities and impossibilities of his missions. One must admire his call to the American people to help make “America great again”, after all wanting to join into making a country work is what street rallies and demonstrations on our streets have always been about. And this is where the more conservative and patriotic political camp in Croatia, openly supporting Trump, and just as openly often ridiculed for it in mainstream media, appears to draw a good part of its breath towards the future. While that political force per se may be relatively smaller, the force of the people is much larger than the bigger political players controlling the nations all-inclusive socioeconomic landscape are; knowing how to engage the people seems a way forward not only for America. That part of Croatia which seeks to restore Croatian patriotism and unity that was once in ample supply when independent Croatia was being created, but brutally attacked for it, may have an added bonus to its lease of life because of Trump. For much of the “conservative/patriotic” Croatia Donald Trump’s victory is as legitimate for furthering their cause as Barrack Obama’s was for hindering it.
“…At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice…In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail…” Trump said (Washington Post/annotated Trump’s inaugural speech). Very potent words for those who listen carefully and have the interests of their own nation at heart first, which (arguably?) is a prerequisite to being able to then look after others.
As shocked as much of the world appears regarding Trump’s directions for America, these however are not news if we carefully consider what’s been going on around the world “lately”, especially Europe where Croatia is. We’ve seen countries turning away from liberal beliefs in open borders, open markets and the resistance to national debates over fundamental national questions. We have seen a number of EU countries either building or considering building border fences to ward off unwanted immigrants or refugees, we have seen the British people vote for Brexit; France’s leading presidential candidate is ultra-conservative (patriotic) Marine Le Pen; 2016 presidential elections in Austria saw the anti-immigrant Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer enter run-off stage of elections, losing by a margin that could easily swing in that direction at next elections; In Hungary, Viktor Orban’s clearly displayed affinity for illiberalism has moved the country toward Christian nationalism and an alliance of some concerning sorts with Russia; and so on.
Speaking in grim terms about the current state of affairs in America (to which many nations including Croatia can clearly relate), Trump pledged to improve the nation by putting America and its people first. “From this day forward,” he said, “it’s going to be only America first.” Nothing wrong with that in my book. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)