Trumpism as a Transatlantic Phenomenon: Perspectives from Europe

Kryštof Kozák speaks to a classroom of students in Anderson Hall about the 2016 Presidential Election (Photo: Taylor Allen)
Kryštof Kozák speaks to a classroom of students in Anderson Hall about the 2016 Presidential Election (Photo: Taylor Allen)

WRITTEN BY: TAYLOR ALLEN

For four weeks in September, the Global Studies department and the Dissent in America Teach-in at Temple has been hosting a program called “Global Issues in the 2016 Elections”. They occur exclusively on Fridays. Various professors from schools around the country come to discuss the election from an academic perspective.

This past Friday, Kryštof Kozák of Charles University in Prague discussed the complexities of the American presidential election and it’s impact on European politics in his program, “Trumpism as a Transatlantic Phenomenon.”

Kozák made the argument that his topic is important because liberal education is under threat. He explained that within the presidential election, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton seems to be held to a standard of honesty.

Clinton has been heavily criticized for her inconsistency relating to Benghazi, as well as her leaked email scandal during the Democratic National Convention this past summer. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is regularly criticized for the birther scandal and his language toward minorities and women.

Kozák believes that neither candidate is ideal. This opinion is not exactly an uncommon one heading into the November 8 election. Both Clinton and Trump are two of the most unfavorable candidates within the last thirty years.

“We have entered post-truth politics,” Kozák said. “The concept of truth has depreciated. Lying inherently ruins education. It causes people to think that facts don’t matter.”

Kozák went on to explain that this problem of “post-truth” politics is not something exclusive to the United States. Countries such as Hungary, Poland, Austria, Germany, France and England also deal with the candidates lying or omitting information in order to further specific political agendas.

The influx of Syrian refugees entering European countries remains a controversial topic. During this time, funding has also been cut for academics. Kozák argued that the reason for this is that scholars are usually the people who seek the truth.

“Educators are usually on the side of refugees and therefore are seen as traitors,” Kozák said.

Kozák ended his talk by explaining how politics are driven more heavily by ideology rather than fact. He mentioned that average people as well as politicians care more about their own views rather than the actual policies being voted on. He argues that this is the reason that both people vote along party lines so often.

Alexandra Guisinger, a political science professor at Temple, will host the next Teach-in. She will be discussing the backlash against free trade in the general election year on September 30.

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