The lack of deeply meaningful publications in the American media or analytical publications is a worrying sign. This suggests one of two things: either the crisis is superficial and will not have a profound impact, or that the American elites are unable to correctly diagnose their own situation, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Andrey Sushentsov.
On January 20, Joseph Biden was sworn in, becoming the 46th President of the United States. The Democrats perceive their victory in the presidential election as unconditional and reliable. At the same time, almost half of those who voted disagree with this. An attempt to implement the maximalist programme of the Democrats creates the risk of pushing the pendulum too far, so that it returns, full force, during the next political cycle. Perhaps with a new takeover of Congress?
There are many questions on the surface, the answers to which could dampen the severity of the crisis. How can the L-shaped irregularities in the counting of votes be explained? Why do long-dead citizens “participate” in the US elections? Why are the pogroms with fires and robberies under the slogan Black Lives Matter socially approved, while the protests in Washington are not? Why, after all that happened, did eight senators and 139 members of the House of Representatives vote against Biden’s approval as president? However, American analysts have not yet adequately analysed the popular uprisings in Washington on January 6 — there has only been a fierce inter-party struggle.
What is happening in terms of stability in the American political system, which, with its exemplary rules, norms and institutions, has hardly defeated the non-systemic outsider?
Donald Trump is a very specific American president. If we assess his presidency according to the method of the American researcher Fred Greenstein, we will see that Trump’s strength was mass communication, a specific style of thinking, and a political vision based on these features that captivated people. This allowed Trump to create a wave of support, get a short-term effect, get people involved, and get them to express their emotions.
At the same time, Trump’s weaknesses, according to Greenstein’s method, were his lack of emotional intelligence, inability to find consensus with opponents, and, most importantly, his lack of organisational skills. The peculiarity of Donald Trump as a leader is that he does not know how to create systems. In a way, he is the anti-Eisenhower who brought a military-like organisation to the White House and launched the full-scale work of the National Security Council.
And yet Trump, this unstructured, impulsive person who lives by his ego and personal brand, walks on the edge of the law, and makes decisions spontaneously — this person almost defeated the American political system.
It should be understood that one of the characteristics of the United States political system is that, internally, it is highly dynamic. In other words, the basic process for the system is an acute conflict. In the aftermath of the Cold War, partisan conflict deepened, beginning with the confrontation between Bill Clinton and the Republican leader in Congress, Newt Gringrich, who sabotaged White House policies. This became possible because the United States experienced fewer external constraints — such as confrontation with the USSR — that would otherwise prompt it to mobilise to achieve national goals.