When will America become a dictatorship?

Wayne Lempke, US Democrat from Hilpoltstein, sees American democracy still in danger

The Hilpoltstein chairman of the Democrats Abroad in North and Central Bavaria, the US Democrats in Northern Bavaria, is American, but has lived with his wife in Germany for many years. And since the Republican Trump was elected 45th US President in 2016, Lempke has sometimes been a stranger to his homeland itself. "Trump wanted to destroy the Republican Party and democracy. He partially managed that," says Lempke (small photo).

"Democracy has only been saved temporarily," warns Lempke. It didn't change suddenly after January 20th. Since then, the Democrat Joe Biden has been US President. Lempke thinks that the Republicans have ruined Trump. "You openly admitted that Trump is guilty," but only 7 out of 50 Republican Party senators voted for a subsequent impeachment. Even Mitch McConnell, head of the Republicans in the Senate, made this explicit in his closing speech. Trump was to blame for the storming of the Capitol by his supporters because he refused to admit his election defeat. "No doubt," said McConnell - no doubt. Nevertheless, he had voted against the impeachment on Saturday. Reason: Trump was no longer in office at the time of the indictment. “It's a farce.” Because it was McConnell who delayed the proceedings for so long. His current argument is a very cheap excuse. Lempke suspects that this is based on party political tactics: "They only want to get rid of Trump, not his voters." The Republicans would have missed a historic opportunity. "Now you have to live with your conscience," says Lempke. And later explain to their children and grandchildren why they did not condemn Trump. Because, Lempke suspects, the impeachment against Trump will be in the American history books at some point.

It was also because of historical responsibility that it was necessary for the Democrats to seek the second impeachment proceedings. "It is important for the country that all evidence is shown," says Wayne Lempke. The hate speech, the tweets, the videos, Trump's cynical refusal to help the mob-hunted MPs. "The prosecutors did a fantastic job, very convincingly," says Lempke. Many Republican senators would have admitted that too. "That speaks volumes," says Lempke. “Trump's lawyers were a disaster, incredibly embarrassing.” But he just doesn't get any better ones. The fact that he survived the impeachment anyway is due to the power calculation. "There are politicians in the Senate, not pastors," says Lempke. Many Republican MPs fear re-election if they voted against Trump. Of the seven deviants, six will no longer compete.

Perhaps this tactic is even helpful for American democracy. Otherwise, many more radical Trumpists from the individual states might be elected to the Senate. A weaving flaw in the constitution.

The USA is not a representative democracy like in Germany. Only the winner of a constituency makes it into parliament. That promoted the two-party system. The founding fathers of the nation around 250 years ago would not have thought of parties at all, but of individual MPs who are solely committed to the cause. "If one of the two parties is right-wing populist in a system like this, it's a huge problem."

Because the US political system is based on cooperation and consensus. Large majorities are needed for every law. "The system is sick," says Lempke. But it can only be changed with large majorities. On the other hand, it is easier to allow new states to be allowed to send senators to the capital. Washington D. C. and Puerto Rico, US suburbs in the Caribbean, would be considered. The majority could shift significantly.

Lempke explains with the media landscape that the majority of Republican supporters still consider Trump to be innocent. Many Trump fans would steer clear of news channels like CNN or CBS and newspapers like the New York Times and prefer to tune into Fox News. "You can orient your life in such a way that you never see or read the truth," says Lempke. "I stand there too and don't recognize my country," he confesses. And he fears that these information bubbles and Trump's right-wing authoritarian presidency have permanently shaken democracy. "We have come very close to the dictatorship," says Lempke. Fortunately, however, there is now a president of a sensible party in power. And for Trump, the story is not over yet. Even if he was not convicted of "inciting riot", dozens of charges are still awaiting him. Lempke believes that Trump's already poor reputation would suffer as a result. Therefore, Lempke does not believe in a heralded return to the political stage. “It's a matter of time before Trump's influence wears off.” HK

Robert Kofer