Donald Trump’s Presidency has set fire to people’s political emotions. But let’s put emotions aside for a moment nor considered the phenomenon of Trump as democracy in action. Trump personifies the will. Whether Trump does is democratic, many will disagree about. But the fact is that he is democratically elected and that he pursue its democratic obligations to voters.
To understand democracy in action under Trump, we should look at some of the aspects of American political institutions and culture.
In a democratic political system, political parties stands for citizens’ views on political issues. Parties competing for government. In such a system there is not one party that dominates, but power rotates. Trump won. He has power, and he has given positions of power to their peers. He quickly started the process to put into practice the political agenda he so clearly articulated in the campaign. What he is now doing, was what got him elected as president.
But democracies are not equal. The institutional structures vary, and this variation is significant. The American system is partly a majority system. On one side is the presidential system structured so that Congress, the courts and the administration balances the powers of the president. Therefore, the system is less a majority system than the British parliamentary system.
But when the president’s party controls both the House and Senate (as is the case now), making the US system is far easier for the president to dominate politics. In this sense, the American system is closer to a majority democracy than most European parliamentary systems and almost all presidential systems in Latin America.
Yet we do not know how effective Trump will use its power to create new policies. But the last week gives optimism and expectations among Trumps trailers. No American president in recent times has shown such energy, determination and efficiency during his first week in office.
But Trump only “heats”. The scope of his legislative power through “executive order” is limited. Trump has every opportunity to implement significant legislative changes, given the dominance Republicans have in Congress. The party has thus far supported the Trump.
Is this a problem? Well, Trump opponents transformation of policy is to be considered worrying, and more painful. But this does not mean that democracy is weakened. Many of us dislike Trump (some of it may be illegal, but it is likely the courts will take care of it), but Trump’s intentions came clear in the campaign. He was elected on the basis of the promises that now is being implemented.
This is democracy in action: “The people” chose Trump. His followers cheered when he won. What we have seen in recent days, is that Trump comply with their obligations to voters.
Trump being demonized, and there are many good reasons for that. But he did not take power. He was elected by voters who accept (if not always openly supports) a policy founded on racism, misogyny, nationalism, degrading attitudes towards various minorities, aggression and hatred. This is the awful truth. Trump has given the world a glimpse into a dark but real side of American culture.