Viewing Trump’s America From the Outside

The jokes are constant reminders of how far America has fallen since the days of President Obama to the nightmarish leadership of our current president.

Being a student of political science, avoiding Donald Trump is no easy feat. In the United States, where I live and attend university, professors speak of him with a tone of impartiality, to avoid placing partisan bias in a fact-based educational environment. In my first few weeks here at King’s, I’ve noticed references to Trump are sly and veiled (though still quite obvious) and are met with snickers by the class. I always laugh along, as to say I’m not a fan of Donald Trump would be a severe understatement. However, as an American, the jokes come with a twinge of sadness and nostalgia; while certainly funny, they are constant reminders of how far America has fallen since the days of President Obama to the nightmarish leadership of our current president.

I imagine that Brits view the presidency of Donald Trump the way we Americans view Brexit- while it is a tragedy for both countries and indicative of our political free falls- we view it from afar, in an impersonal manner. These events have no direct impact in our respective countries and, for the most part, the lives of the citizens. Americans are fully capable of realising the horrible significance Brexit has on the future of the European Union and the world, but it simply doesn’t affect us.

 

It is easy to homogenise a country based on their leader or policies, but being an American in the United Kingdom (particularly one studying politics and International Relations) this perspective has brought the personal and political spheres together. When people first learn I’m an American, nine times out of ten the first thing they ask is “So what do you think of Trump?” For some reason I’m always taken aback. Back home I live in one of the most liberal and diverse areas of the country, in a state known for its progressive politics- one that would certainly never vote for Trump, so to even wonder if I am a supporter of his horrific administration is baffling. But then I am reminded that to people with no context of living in Trump’s America, the notion of having an unhinged ex-reality television “star” as the Commander in Chief must be equally confusing and that their questions do come from a place of genuine curiosity.

 

Watching Trump’s disastrous policy-making more than 5,000 miles away from home feels surreal; I feel almost as though I am at the zoo watching from outside the glass as opposed to being in the middle of the enclosure- I still can see and hear everything that happens but I am no longer directly involved. It is incredibly disheartening to know that soon enough I will be back in the middle of the Trump Administration’s terror. Remaining hopeful has proven extremely difficult and residing in another country has only catalysed my feelings of disenfranchisement. It is hard to feel as though you make an impact, and that your vote matters, when the American political system appears so broken from a wider lens.

 

I wish I could say that I am confident that America will turn itself around. With the recent midterm elections, citizens gave control back to the Democrats in House of Representatives. While this is a fantastic wave of change, we are not out of the woods yet. Many of the rising stars of the Democratic Party lost their elections, leaving the party with very little energisation heading into the upcoming term. The party will now have to decide if it is willing to gamble running a far left progressive candidate to appeal to young people and minorities, or if it will run a more moderate old white man that will hopefully sway centrists and independents. It is absolutely imperative that the Democrats regain control of the American government in 2020 before more irreparable damage is made to the country.

 

While it is true that one day the terror of Trump and his Administration will be history, Americans and even global citizens are dealing with severe repercussions- notably the attack on migrants and asylum seekers, refusal to pass common sense gun laws despite seemingly daily mass shootings and the refusal to accept the gender identities of transgender and gender-nonconforming Americans.

 

Be it Brexit or American politics, young people in the UK and the US matter now more than ever. While we may have to live with the decisions of our predecessors, our generation will soon be beacons of hope and change for our respective nations.