Increasingly, it is beginning to look like President Trump and his policies are popular elsewhere in the world.
Protesters are chanting “We want Trump” at riots in France to oppose the socialist and globalist policies Trump has worked to reverse in the United States. Trump-friendly heads of state have been elected in Brazil, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere.
Conservative parties have gained in the legislative bodies in Italy, Switzerland, Greece, and Germany, where left-wing Chancellor Angela Merkel has had to bow out, the U.K., where Theresa May’s government is struggling because its Brexit plan does not please the conservatives who won the election to separate Britain from the European Union and elsewhere.
But to the extent Americans find out about these developments at all, the reports are laced with adjectives that present these newcomers as radicals to be feared rather than reformers offering a different approach to government.
An example came late last week from Time magazine with a story headlined “Austria’s Young Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is Bringing the Far-Right Into The Mainstream.”
Kurz who was elected chancellor in 2017, is part of a growing threat to peace in Europe, Time wrote.
“From France and Germany to Italy and Sweden, parties that had ruled from the center for decades have been weakened and pushed aside by populists and demagogues who speak the language of division: nationalism against globalism, the patriots against the traitors, the people against the Establishment,” wrote Simon Shuster, reporting from Vienna. “It’s the same language spoken by U.S. President Donald Trump, whose rise helped give these groups legitimacy and a sense of momentum.”
Kurz is of the “center-right,” Time wrote. Or at least he was until he faced the dilemma Shuster described. “Should they co-opt the policies and tone of Trump and his fellow travelers, or risk being swept aside as stalwarts of the status quo? To put it more simply: Should they try to beat them or try to join them?”
Kurz chose to become a Trumpian, Time wrote.
“He formed a coalition government in 2017 with the populist and reactionary Freedom Party, bringing a movement that was founded by neo-Nazis back into a position of power,” Shuster wrote. “In Austria, the far right and the mainstream have merged during his tenure on the issues that trouble Europe the most, namely identity, Islam and immigration. The young chancellor calls the union a democratic necessity. His critics say he has sanitized some of the most odious figures on the European right and branded him the ‘Alpine Trump.’”
He’s not personally like Trump, Shuster noted. He prefers to fly coach. He is courteous, modest and a listener. He apologized for being two minutes late to the interview, poured sparkling water for the reporter and even offered to carry the photographer’s equipment to the car after the interview, Shuster wrote.
He is considering changing from Diet Coke as his favorite soda because it’s also Trump’s.
But he is Trumpian to the core when it comes to immigration, Time said. Placed in charge of integrating migrants at the age of 24, “he soon built a reputation for toughness, verging on meanness, when it came to migrants from the Muslim world,” Shuster wrote.
His positions “were so far to the right of center at the time that some leaders of his own party did not want to be photographed next to Kurz. But in 2015, when migrants and refugees from the Middle East surged into Europe, his hard-line views on immigration began to seem ahead of their time,” Shuster wrote.
This doesn’t mean the defenders of the status quo have stopped pushing back. The story quotes Joschka Fisher, Germany’s former foreign minister, saying, “The far right is now on the rise many, many places in Europe. That’s just a fact.”
It also quotes Jean-Claude Juncker, the high-ranked European Union official who made news when he appeared to be drunk at a NATO gala, saying in a speech in Vienna that “When stupid populism and narrow-minded nationalism march toward the future, one must get up and stop it while there is still time.”
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