Before coming to Europe, I knew I’d be subjected to the thoughts and beliefs of different cultures as I traveled from country to country on my free weekends. I expected to learn from them and be enlightened by their European ways.
But as I’ve gone from Spain to Germany to Italy to France and to the Netherlands, locals from all over are looking to me to answer their deep seated questions on America and what it’s become. The same question continues to pop up time and time again by the residents of whatever city I’m in.
“What is the deal with Trump?” I’ve been asked in every country, from every type of person.
From the countries that I’ve visited and the people that I’ve talked to, Europe as a whole seems to be genuinely mystified by the US Presidential Elections and the caricature of a nominee that Donald Trump has turned into. This reoccurring question has me wondering what does Europe really think of us? And is it okay that all of Europe is watching this campaign trail unfold quizzically?
Well a simple Google search can quickly tell you the Europeans opinion on Trump.
It also appears that Europeans have no trouble expressing their views on it either –a poll on the public image of the US found that 85% of Europeans doubt Trump’s ability to do the right thing regarding foreign affairs. After his speech at the Republican National Convention in July, Trump made headlines across European newspapers. The London Guardian wrote that Trump painted a “dark and terrifying” picture of America. Germany conservative paper, Die Welt, wrote that the speech was “apocalyptic and bleak”, offering no real solutions. News outlets in both France and Spain wrote on Trump’s overconfidence and lack of humility.
Not only do journalists abroad note the terrifying reality of Trump, but European Union officials do as well. Italian diplomat Federica Mogherini supported Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, and went on to express her and other officials’ concerns with Donald Trump as he threatened to end NATO and become closer with Russian President Vladimir Putin. These concerns were taken to Julianne Smith, the former deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, who said that she never thought her job would be reassuring Europeans.
As Trump’s discourse continues to spiral downward, European’s views on Americans follow. Allgemeine Zeitung, a conservative German newspaper wrote “In no other democracy in the world, it is said, could voters be so openly motivated by greed, show so little concern for less-privileged fellow citizens and be so politically ignorant. Only in hate-filled, under-educated ‘Ami-land’ could someone like Trump be successful.”
Hearing phrases like that as an American terrify me. How have we as a country gotten to a point where the rest of the world can look at us and laugh? Why can’t the rest America see what Donald Trump is doing to our nation? It’s questions like these, that I wonder about as I live in the confines of Europe for the next two months, that leave me scared to return back home.