On a crisp December night, Global Bridges Members and Young Leaders gathered at the International Club Berlin, the former haunt of British officers stationed in the city after the Second World War, for the annual Global Bridges Traditional Goose Dinner.
Seating for the event was assigned by the pick of a hat, and after Members and Young Leaders greeted each other and found their places, Global Bridges Executive Chairman Dr. Beate Lindemann introduced the gathering. She provided an overview of Global Bridges’ activities in 2018 before talking about Global Bridges’ friendship with George H. W. Bush, who passed the previous Friday. In concluding her speech, she announced the evening’s guest speaker, Mr. Andreas Ross, political editor for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
Before returning to Germany, Mr. Ross spent five years as the FAZ’s political correspondent in Washington D.C., where he observed the end of the Obama era and the rise of ‘Trumpism’. He spoke on the topic “Is Trump Unstoppable?”, in which he laid out his analysis of the Trump phenomenon, much to the interest of our guests.
From Mr. Ross’s talk, it is clear that we live in unpredictable times. He described the recent US midterm elections as a mixed bag, in which the Democrats gained 41 seats in the House of Representatives, but lost to Republicans in the Senate. Donald Trump may be disappointed in losing the House, but he can live with these results, stated Ross.
Ross was pessimistic about Democratic chances of taking back the Presidency in 2020. The promised ‘Blue Wave’ did not prove as firm a rebuke of the President as many Democrats had hoped, while ‘Never Trumpers’ like John McCain, Bob Corker, or Jeff Flake failed to mount a threat to the President from within the Republican Party itself. Indeed, the Republican Party is now firmly the Party of Trump, Ross asserted.
It is clear that ‘Trumpism’ represents more than a ‘flash in the pan’; it is a lasting political force that must be taken seriously, remarked Ross. It has tapped into long-standing frustrations among American voters dating back to the 2008 financial crisis. Anti-elite sentiment is in vogue, as is a distrust of mainstream American media, a feeling which Trump has used masterfully to his own advantage. Originally coined by the Clinton campaign to describe conspiracy theorists, Russian chatbots, and far right talk radio, the term ‘Fake News’ was then coopted by candidate Trump as an attack on mainstream media. The President’s ability to influence the daily media narrative remains his ‘trump card’, so to speak.
Once Mr. Ross concluded his speech, the dinner began in earnest. Global Bridges Members and Young Leaders, each seated randomly, helped one another pass dishes of red cabbage, dumplings, and roast goose around the table: a perfect way to get to know one another. As they ate, the guests mulled over what Mr. Ross had said, and after their meal, seized the opportunity to ask him questions about current political affairs in the United States.
Again, this year’s Traditional Goose Dinner was another resounding success. With 2019 approaching fast, Global Bridges looks forward to organizing more successful events, Study Trips, and conferences in the new year.