The United States is the world’s most influential nation. China may be closing in in terms of economic influence and now boasts the world’s largest standing army, but the United States’ 17 trillion dollar gross domestic product and interventionist tendencies have allowed the nation to remain at the center of foreign policy for the better part of the last century. A perhaps unintended consequence of such a central position on the world stage is an international interest in a seemingly national matter: the 2016 United States presidential elections. In today’s globalized world, the political decisions of one nation can affect the daily lives of people around the globe.
The Paris daily newspaper Le Monde has an entire page on its website dedicated to the 2016 election. The names that most often appear are Sanders and Trump, with one candidate receiving praise for reclaiming the word socialist and bringing standard European social welfare policies to the United States. The other candidate is not as positively reviewed, with features titled “The rise of trumpism” and “Steak and Vodka: in Donald Trump’s mall.”
“I am actually super afraid of Donald Trump winning this election,” said first-year Ozan Gokdemir, an international student from Turkey. “I’m afraid that this guy is not going to leave me a country to turn back to in five years in the Middle East as a result of his military policies. What he is standing for is scaring me. People my age in Turkey are following the presidential elections too, because it is going to affect the world. Who is going to be the head of this giant? We don’t want Trump to win.”
The German newspaper Der Spiegel published an opinion piece on Trump bluntly titled “Donald Trump is the most dangerous man in the world.” The article cites a disturbing tête-à-tête between Russian President Vladimir Putin, famous for his own personal brand of authoritarianism (and the myriad shirtless pictures of him available on the Internet), in which Trump reportedly stated, “He is a nicer person than I am. In terms of leadership, he’s getting an A.”
Putin then returned the compliment, stating: “He’s a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt. He is the absolute front-runner in the presidential race.”
The international focus on Sanders as the Democratic Party candidate to follow is an interesting anomaly in comparison to U.S. media outlets. Clinton has long been hailed as the party’s most qualified candidate with little focus on Sanders’ successes – although his failures have been widely broadcasted. Many European publications are hailing Sanders as the figure that can bring European-style democratic socialism to a country that once prided itself on its prosecution of leftists and its defeat of socialist Soviet Russia.
“I feel closer ideologically to Bernie Sanders,” Gokdemir said. “What he says about public education in colleges is super revolutionary. I think in capitalism the borders between classes are really similar to the ones in the Indian caste system. In the Indian caste system, if you are born into a poor family, even if you are a genius, you are still the pariah. It is the heart of the dragon in the United States, the capital of capitalism. How are you supposed to climb up? Education is the only way to break this chain and create equal opportunities.”
Originally fodder for satirical publications, the fear that Trump may actually gain political power has begun to emerge as a legitimate threat, both to the United States and to foreign governments. Articles exclaiming horror and indignation over Trump’s success have replaced the unflattering caricatures and witty retorts previously characteristic of coverage on Trump’s campaign.
Europe is no stranger to the devastating effects of nationalistic, bombastic leaders who gain support through fear mongering and advance their goals through inflammatory exclamations. On a continent where fascism killed millions and destroyed billions of dollars worth of heritage and culture, there is no room for the reactionary theatrics employed by Trump.
The Spanish newspaper El País published a particularly revealing satire in which Philip II, the deceased Hapsburg monarch, gives advice to Trump from beyond the grave.
Some of the more poignant commentary involves reviving the Inquisition as a means of combatting the terrors of religious freedom plaguing the United States today.
“It will definitely be worse for the Middle Eastern region if a candidate like Trump gets elected,” said first-year Rozana Jaber, a Daughters for Life scholar from Jerusalem, Israel. “There’s no question about that.”
Trump’s inflammatory remarks have already insulted foreign powers to the point of retaliation – and he has yet to earn the Republican nomination.
“That’s the way Mussolini arrived and the way Hitler arrived,” President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico told the Excélsior newspaper when asked to comment on Trump’s solution to immigration reform – that is, that the Mexican government should finance the building of a wall (literally, a cement wall) along the U.S./Mexico border in order to keep undocumented immigrants out.
“I never thought that Bernie Sanders could win this election, since the beginning,” Gokdemir said. “As the rap song says ‘cash rules.’ Cash rules in the states, but he made a revolutionary impact in the United States and in world politics. He is a pioneer. He brought all these new socialist concepts to American politics so that in the next election these things are going to be talked about. There are going to be other Bernie Sanders coming from the left. The American people are going to be used to these ideas. They are going to demand that other candidates fight for these ideas too.”
Information for this article was taken from nytimes.com.