Holger Stark | January 26 2017 | Spiegel
Megalomania & Small-Mindedness
Reporter Holger Stark spent the past four years as DER SPIEGEL’s Washington correspondent during a time in which the country changed radically enough to elect Donald Trump as its president. What led this once mighty nation into decline?
On a frigid January evening one year ago, I was standing in a line of around 1,000 people in Burlington, Vermont, to see Donald Trump. I reported my very first story on the United States in 1991 and had been living in the country since 2013. I thought I knew the country well. But on that evening in January, I realized that I had been mistaken.
Burlington lay under a blanket of snow and next to me in line stood Mary and Tim Loyer, both wrapped in dark-blue parkas. Mary was unemployed and her son Tim had a job at a bar. Both told me they were Bernie Sanders supporters. Tim said he was particularly bothered by the power held by large companies, that the division of wealth was unfair and that people like him no longer had opportunities to improve their lives. It was the anthem of the working class.
When asked what he found attractive about Trump, Tim said: “Bernie and Trump are the only politicians who say what they’re thinking and do what they say,” as his mother Mary nodded along. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is corrupt, he said. In an election pitting Trump against Clinton, Tim said he would not vote for Clinton. Again, Mary nodded.
At the entrance, security personnel patted us down and asked if we were planning on voting for Trump. Only those who said yes were allowed to proceed.
When Trump began speaking, a demonstrator stood up and yelled that Trump was a racist. The candidate paused, shook his fist and demanded that security throw the protester out. “Keep his coat. Confiscate his coat,” Trump said from the stage. It was 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius) outside. Trump snarled as his fans jumped to their feet hooting and jeering. One was reminded of a lynch mob.