Pundits have correctly diagnosed one thing: the symptoms of America’s domestic problems and the possible effects of a Trump presidency on America’s global position. But their assumption that Trump’s victory makes electoral revolts in Europe more likely is erroneous. Europe’s insurrections may arise for similar reasons, and may even take similar form, but correlation, as the analysts hate to admit, is not causality. Europeans and Americans may face similar challenges in a globalized economy, but they are heirs to different histories.
The Trump Effect is in reality a misleading narrative that reverses the current of recent events. Internationally, the Trump Effect is a domino theory of democratic reaction, in which Trump, to use the key term, “emboldens” Europeans to vote for the alt-right flat-earthers for whom they would not otherwise have voted. Yet the sorry truth is that Europeans are already uninhibited when it comes to voting for bigots and xenophobes. Further, the extremity of Europe’s “New Right” parties is not uniform, and some of Europe’s antiestablishment parties are not of the right at all. As for the alleged domino effect, if any dominoes are falling, they are falling towards the United States, not from it.
If we were to name a political condition after a deliberately controversial populist with a blond bouffant and a fondness for anti-immigrant statements, a more accurate name would be the Wilders Effect. Its symptoms appeared in Holland several years before the crash of 2008 and the subsequent rush of blood to the extremities that produced the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, and the Trump candidacy.