Will Germany want American tourists after Trump says "no" to NATO?

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Dear Bert, You watched the election returns all night, too? And — like everyone else in Germany —I suppose you’re wondering what’s going on here in the U.S? I can’t speak for all of us, but I’m bitterly disappointed that Hillary lost the election. Trump may have other skills, but as a president he’s wrong. He doesn’t read, isn’t a thinker, can’t concentrate for longer than 30 seconds, had six months to learn the intricacies of foreign and domestic issues but didn’t bother, never forgets imagined slights, and he bullies and insults anyone who disagrees. He used a string of hotel bankruptcies to avoid paying taxes then refused to pay the workers who built those hotels. But I’m sure you’ve already heard all this. It’s unfathomable why so many Americans bought into this con man’s promises.

Many voters said they were simply tired of having another Clinton in the White House. But Trump’s popularity has deeper causes. Many observers ascribe Trump’s appeal to the fear and anxiety that keeps families on edge, anxieties caused by a world in chaos. There’s Brexit (Britain’s vote to leave the European Union); photos of undocumented migrants; ISIS beheadings; starving children behind Syrian battle lines; unrest in Egypt; Boko Haram kidnappings; Putin’s bloody take-over in the Ukraine; the Russian-backed downing of Malaysian flight 17, killing the passengers and crew; and mounting protests in South Africa. And all shown on the evening news.

Then there’s daily internet hacking by the Chinese and others, melting Arctic ice, global warming, the sudden spread of the zika virus and as Trump’s repeated lie that millions are without jobs (the jobless numbers are lower than they’ve been in a decade). In fact, some commentators have invoked Hitler, noting that this decade is eerily like the mid-930s, when Hitler appointed himself Germany’s sole ruler. Then, as now, frightened people were only too quick to support a strong man promising to make their country “great.” The saving grace today is that the U.S. government is too diverse, too stable and too big for a single person to abolish. Thousands of employees in dozens of federal agencies enjoy guaranteed job security and will therefore still be in Washington long after Trump is gone. Not to mention the inevitable opposition from the congress and other national and state public officials, in both parties, plus the 49 percent of the population who supported Hillary.

If Trump isn’t willing to compromise, his promises won’t mean much. He has vowed to dump NATO membership “on the first day in the White House” because the U.S. supports too many foreign countries’ military. But this claim ― which his followers take as gospel ― is likely to remain words. First, his advisers will look over the plan and rewrite it. Then they’ll pass it to a congressional committee for study. Needing more information, the congressmen will appoint an independent commission to create a report. But naysayers will protest, proposing other options, vacation breaks will push the project into the future, and once the order is finally given the go-ahead, they’ll say they can’t find the funding. Trump has a surprise waiting for him. I won’t be surprised if he hires real experts to make decisions for him, showing himself only at state dinners, banquets, critical news conferences and United Nations meetings.

Populism and isolationism — they’re thriving and it’s scary. Look at Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, rounding up and executing hundreds of suspected drug users, while cutting ties with the U.S.; in France, Marie Le Pen’s inflammatory nationalism; And Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, the once-touted savior, voted into power on promises he could’t keep.

How about you? Are you still working, full or part time? Vacationing on Spain’s Costa Brava? We’ll probably be coming back to Germany in the spring...if they’ll let us in the door! I do hope you’ll be there and will have time to get together again. As always, you’ve got a standing invitation to visit us here in Los Angeles, or in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Until then, knock on wood for luck. Affectionately, Anne