The nascent push for more independence stems also from the fact that many Europeans saw Trump’s election in deeply personal terms — deflating their view of the United States as a serious nation and a bastion of tolerance. Many feel not just shocked but betrayed. Even senior voices in a nation more familiar with the risks of demagoguery than any other are asking whether it may really be wise for Germany to hitch its wagon to Trump.
“Trump is the trailblazer of a new authoritarian and international chauvinist movement,” Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s deputy chancellor, told German media after the U.S. presidential election. He added: “They want a rollback to the bad old times in which women belonged by the stove or in bed, gays in jail, and unions at best at the side table. He who doesn’t keep his mouth shut gets publicly bashed.”
In the aftermath of Trump’s victory and the vote by Britain to leave the European Union, many across the continent see an old world order crumbling. Europe’s greatest ally could emerge as its chief adversary on climate change, the peace accord with Iran and free trade. German officials, for instance, are already calculating that Trump’s victory means a massive transatlantic free-trade deal — years in the making — is effectively dead. And Berlin will be hard-pressed to maintain European unity on sanctions against Russia if the United States backs away from its own.
Concern is also rising of a possible frost between Trump and Merkel, whom he repeatedly jabbed at on the stump.