The strange enthusiasm of certain Russians when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States continues to flare up here and there in the wide expanses of the Russian provinces. Although, somewhat paraphrasing the classics, the prediction that “soon your ginger curls will thin and they’ll just start beating you” is already coming true.* There were no demonstrations in support of Trump in Obinsk, which is in the Kaluga region, while Trump faces protests at home.
That particularity is really the result of media furor that surrounded Trump while he was still campaigning. So it happened that Russians, starved for kind words from Western politicians (what cat doesn’t enjoy a kind word?) are now trying to support, at least in spirit, “their Trump.” Of course, in fact, he is theirs in a purely hypothetical sense. These actions are completely irrational and rational for the following reasons.
Barack Obama was the president of “hope” now unfulfilled. President-elect Trump is still also “offering hope,” but now, not primarily to Americans. The last president, it seems, slightly missed his chance at achieving happiness through social reform.
Looking at Trump’s campaign rhetoric, he plans to make the U.S. focus on itself, the best and most exceptional people of all, and to a large degree, leave other countries alone; the ones which, under the Nobel Peace Prize laureate president, experienced a serious “overload”** because of interference in their affairs. We are not just talking about the half-destroyed Syria or Libya, we are also talking about Bulgaria, deprived of its lucrative “Southern Stream;”*** Italy, which is in a productivity slump because it was forced to join in the anti-Russian sanctions, and France and Greece, suffering from the same thing.
It is good news that the U.S. will finally leave other countries alone. However, it is quite probable that Trump will repeat taking Obama’s path and in the end, not fulfill the hopes that are placed on him. The obligations he took on during the campaign are really quite peculiar and demand, in essence, that Americans change their usual mode, including the economy and even, a bit, their famous way of life. Is American society ready for this? This, as they say, is “unknown to science.”
That is why, naturally, there is currently quite an emotional reaction in the U.S. to Trump’s victory. But while you can understand the Americans (we are talking about their own country here), the Russian excitement surrounding Trump has a very A) artificial and B) clearly unhealthy character. One has to reckon that our people believe this authoritarian (yes, it turns out that this is possible in countries with a “model democracy”) and unusual-looking U.S. president will come along and, through some unknown method, change the course of events, not only in his own country (the U.S., that is), but in the entire world.
Directly or indirectly, this reaction is evidence that this infamous “model democracy” has so completely exhausted the global community with “color revolutions,” “peaceful” protests and God knows what else that the Americans themselves have exported to “third-world countries,” that now the products of these revolutionary technologies are being discovered, to their surprise, at home.
All of these emotions are quite understandable. What isn’t clear is what we are celebrating.
Sure, of course, here in Russia, like in much of the rest of the world, correct-thinking people were greatly relieved when they found out that of the two U.S. presidential candidates, the candidate with “a human face” won. But it seems quite unlikely to expect banquets with champagne, ovations and “victory” announcements from regional leaders.
Not to mention that Trump and his crew are pragmatics and will act, as is expected from competent leaders, in the interests of their own country first and foremost, interests that are far from our own. That and campaign promises do not always mesh with everyday reality in the White House. So that’s when in Russia, they will likely forget what Trump promised during his campaign and go back to their usual grousing about the American president for dirty stairwells.**** They will try and forget about the champagne and ovations; and really, this is for the best. It is probably more worthwhile to spend your emotional energy supporting candidates in your own country.
The author is the general director of the Center of Political Information.
*Translator’s note: This is a quote from the book “The Golden Calf” by Ilf and Petrov, which is told to a character who is impersonating the son of a famous figure, telling him that he will not be able to keep pulling it off for long.
**Translator’s note: “Overload” is a reference to a mistake by U.S. diplomats during a key Russian relations meeting in 2010, when they presented the Russian delegation with an “overload” button, instead of a “reset” button.
***Translator’s note: This refers to an unrealized gas pipeline, which would have gone through Bulgaria.
****Translator’s note: This refers to a meme in which Russians blame Obama for their bad infrastructure; burst pipes, bad roads and so forth.