What People Around the World Think of America After Trump's Bewildering Rise
Americans are no strangers to embarrassing exports (sorry for "Grey’s Anatomy" and Papa John’s pizza, Planet Earth!). And our political nutbaggery is no exception. But when it comes to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, we may have outdone ourselves. The GOP frontrunner is a woman-hating reality TV star whose campaign has mostly focused on his lust for ethnic cleansing. The global reaction to Trump mania has been a sense of disgust; Trump is the native son of a country that worships selfishness above empathy, corporate interests over justice and notoriety over prestige. As French author Marie-Cecile Naves put it to Politico, “Trump represents the America we love to hate…He is our negative mirror image, a man we see as brutal, who worships money and lacks culture — someone who lets us feel a bit superior about being European."
In short, the rest of the world seems as flabbergasted about Trump’s rise as we should be. Here’s how seven other countries have reacted to his befuddling popularity.
Mexicans have a special right to resent Trump, given his well-documented disdain for them. He’s pushed blackmailing Mexico into paying for a border fence, called undocumented Latinos “rapists” who are “bringing drugs and crime,” and even vowed to implement a mass deportation of millions of undocumented people and their American children. One July issue of Mexican comic book El Peso Hero featured its hero slugging Donald Trump in the mug on its cover, just as Captain America once socked Hitler. Not to be outdone, Mexican artist Dalton Javier Avalos Ramirez designed a special Donald Trump piÃ±ata so people can fulfill their dreams of bashing Trump with a stick.
France’s Liberation Newspaper didn’t go for subtlety in its August 27 cover story, “Trump: The American Nightmare.” Text that ran alongside his pink grimace declared him to be “vulgar and opportunistic.” Resentment against Trump has long been brewing in the land of brie and berets: back in January, he sparked widespread outrage when he blamed the Charlie Hebdo murders on strict gun laws. (Say quoi?!) More recently, Trump’s nationalism and tendency to make outrageous comments in the media led a columnist at Le Figaro to dub him the American Le Pen, a comparison to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the notorious patriarch of France’s far-right. Le Pen could also give Trump a master class on how to alienate practically everyone with reactionary bullshit: over the past year, Le Pen has gone off the deep end by denying the Holocaust and singing the praises of Nazi-collaborationist Vichy government occupiers who deported thousands of Jews during WWII.
The Latin American country has come under fire for draconian anti-trafficking policies that critics say amount to abuses of Colombians, including sealing their shared borders and deportations. Some observers couldn't help but notice that President Nicolas Maduro’s vicious anti-immigration policies are awfully similar to the vitriol that’s been spewing from the Donald. Opposition politician Saverio Vivas thinks the shoe fits: “Maduro criticizes Donald Trump, but his acts against Colombian immigration are worse than the magnate's words." But Maduro takes issue with the comparison. As he said during an August TV spot, “They’re saying Maduro is like Donald Trump. Imagine! I don't even have his hairstyle, and least of all his bank account.” Um, fair enough, but nothing says “unpopular” quite like being more offensive than human rights violators.
Trump has made no secret of his distaste for China. He’s grumbled about how America keeps losing to China, in contrast with Trump’s record of “always beating [them.]” He claimed the Chinese are “ripping us off left and right,” and their diplomats ought to be taken to McDonald’s instead of to state dinners. As the Washington Post reports, the Chinese are beginning to snark back. Besides mocking Trump’s hair (“This guy’s hair is so strange. I thought it was photoshopped at first!” one Chinese national quipped on social media) the Chinese have become increasingly critical of Trump’s flaunting of his wealth. One state newspaper put it this way: “The theme of Trump’s speech for running for president: I really am very rich.” Spokespeople for the Chinese government have been dismissive, rebutting his claims that Chinese policies swipe jobs and saying that they care more about the opinions of those who actually matter.
Much has been made of the fact that Trump’s anti-immigrant rabble-rousing discounts his own family history. Not only did Trump descend from immigrants, he also married two of them. (His first spouse Ivana was born in the Czech Republic, and he is currently married to Melania, from Slovenia.) But less is said of the fact that his Grandpa Drumpf, after building up a nest egg, actually tried to move back to his native Germany and was denied. As Deutsche Welle reports, Drumpf’s propensity for self-serving corner-cutting seems to have resulted in a grandson bent on erecting 100-story golden calves into the skyline of any city whose legal limits he can push. It’s exactly that flamboyance that fuels German distaste for “The Trump Show,” as his soundbite-optimized campaign was called by the tabloid Bild. A few weeks after Trump announced his candidacy, Suddeutsche Zeitung was feeling lost: “Weird, egomaniac, racist…yet he leads in the polls; how can that be?” the paper asked. Wunderbar question.
Given the fact that Trump’s venom has spared practically no one, it’s notable that he’s been less critical of Russia and President Vladimir Putin than practically any other global politician. (“I was over in Moscow two years ago, and I will tell you — you can get along with those people…you can make deals with those people. Obama can’t,” he recently explained.) Trump has tacitly sided with Russia in the Ukraine conflict, having affirmed his indifference over whether or not Ukraine enters NATO, and landing on an "enemies list" in Ukraine for his pro-Russia comments in the press. Pro-Russian publication Russia Insider even recently suggested a Trump presidency could be good for Russia, since Trump will negotiate based on pragmatics instead of emotion or ideology. The Kremlin-friendly pub also praised the fact that Trump “harbors none of the ridiculous and hysterical Russophobia, which of course is a hallmark of every other Republican candidate.”
Down under, some people have a cynical, sarcastic reason to root for Trump: it distracts the planet from the awfulness of their own recently deposed prime minister, Tony Abbott. As one bloke put it to the Unaustralian, “Trump would take the heat off Abbott so no Australian ever needs to pretend to be a New Zealander ever again.” Another claimed electing Trump “would be so embarrassing for America, they’d all be like ‘ugh, we elected this guy? Awkward.'" Fair enough. But why were Aussies so disgruntled at Abbott, anyway? Sydney Morning Herald columnist Julie Szego wrote that both represent ugly aspects of conservative values, particularly a high-profile disrespect of women. Trump’s center-stage battle against Megyn Kelly at the first Republican debate caused decent human beings to recoil in horror, as they do toward what Szego called Abbott’s “inability to self-censor his natural tendency to link women with domesticity.”