How to Explain Trump While Traveling Abroad

Posted on
May 9, 2017
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Being an American on the road, you often become an ambassador of sorts for your country and culture, and I find myself answering a lot of questions from friends, family, and the occasional well-meaning stranger about the U.S.

And while these questions usually run the gamut from pop to culture (No, I don’t know why peanut butter and jelly is a thing. Yes, our country is very, very large. No, I do not think I sound just like Rachel from Friends when I talk. Also, seriously, you realize that show ended 12 years ago, right? We have other TV shows, thank you very much, England. Many of which we stole from you), in the last few months, nearly every question I get while traveling is focused on one topic: President Trump. While on the road, I am asked on a near-daily basis to explain not only how our reality-star president was elected, but why he is still in office, and why we – the American public – “aren’t doing anything about it.”

For the record, I don’t often talk about politics on the blog. I tend to keep that to Twitter, where the abuse I receive for my opinions is quickly blocked and reported, and I can go about my day (after my blood pressure returns to some semblance of normal and I’ve eaten a cupcake or three). When I write about anything bordering political on the blog, it quickly becomes abusive on a platform which has always exclusively been safe and one that belonged exclusively to me (note: this abuse tends not to be from my usual readers, but from first-time trolls who have stumbled upon this site while presumably looking for something to rage-masturbate to). So I shy away from it here while being unabashedly politically vocal on more public forums. It’s a strange dichotomy.

But today I’m going to talk about how to explain the phenomenon of Trump to people who aren’t American, because it’s a question that keeps coming up for me and for a lot of other travelers. And it’s tricky to answer: a lot of Americans were stunned on election night. I sat in a bar, drunk for the first time in a decade, staring blankly at an enormous screen projecting the impossible results: that a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women was now President. Even seasoned journalists were taken aback – Brian Williams’ sigh embodying what so many people felt at that precise moment.

So for those trying to unlock this mystery from outside the United States, here are a few things to consider:

Hillary was hugely unpopular here in America. In Europe and the rest of the world, this can be rather confusing: she was highly respected and well-known as Secretary of State on the world stage, and incredibly well liked. A poll of the G20 countries found that 18 of them overwhelmingly supported Hillary. Only one – Russia – favored Trump. I spent the days leading up to the election working out of the local Democratic party headquarters, meticulously assembling buttons that read “MADAME PRESIDENT” and working the phone banks – and even so I could feel that there was a palpable dislike for Hillary that we were fighting against. I think that part of this was institutionalized sexism – anyone who tells me otherwise will receive a swift kick to the balls (because, let’s face it: virtually everyone who says it’s not about sexism is a cisgendered dude).

Now, when I say institutionalized sexism, I don’t mean that everyone who disliked Hillary was a sexist (though some, clearly, were). Instead, I mean that she was held to a different and higher standard than Mr. Trump. And she was consistently framed in a negative way – as being an out-of-touch, entitled woman. When Hillary expressed the need for affordable, widespread broadband in rural areas, her quote was cut up and taken out of context – so that it seemed like she was complaining about cell phone coverage in rural areas as a personal inconvenience, rather than a problem she was trying to fix. The media dedicated huge amounts of real estate to negative coverage of Hillary. Which brings me to my next point …

The news had a lot to gain in making the race close. In the U.S., the news is a big, money-making endeavor. Races that aren’t close aren’t interesting – and if fewer people watch the news, that means less ad revenue for those stations. In 2008, Obama decisively won the popular vote by 10 million votes and the electoral college by 192 votes (more on that later) – but coverage made the race seem appallingly close (even though McCain had always been the underdog), and kept viewers glued to their screens. In 2012, the same thing happened with Obama and Romney, even though the president won re-election easily. This election cycle, as Hillary started to pull away from Trump in the polls, negative coverage of her became even more salient – perhaps to give the appearance of a close race. Negative coverage sells more papers – and in this case may have swayed the public, too.

No one thought Trump would win. Seriously. No one. Not the pundits, not Nate Silver (our imperfect oracle), not even Trump himself (and now that he has, there’s a lot of talk around whether he actually wants the job.) So a lot of people who didn’t like Hillary or who weren’t that passionate about her just stayed home. Or people voted third party. Here’s seasoned ABC News commentators laughing at Keith Ellison’s predictions that Trump would soon be leading the Republican party.


 

The Comey Letter. There’s too much to unpack here in a simple blog post – and that’s part of the problem. Hillary had a private server. She was also hacked (but not on her private server). Misconceptions surrounding this issue fed into the already prevalent view that Hillary was corrupt or untrustworthy. Now, the truth has come out: that there was absolutely no reason to reopen the case, and that the only candidate under investigation during this time was actually Trump. And rather amazingly, both Trump and Pence have had some egregious security issues with their phones and computers (Pence was not only using a private email to discuss governmental issues, but he was actually hacked). But the timing of Comey’s letter was positively damning, and newspapers like The New York Times gave it a disproportional amount of coverage days before the election. The prevailing belief is that it likely cost her the election.

Corporations can donate to elections. This is baffling to a lot of my friends outside of the U.S. – lobbying is well-regulated outside of the United States. But in 2010, by a narrow margin, the Supreme Court upheld Citizens United, which said that corporate spending is equivalent to free speech, and it cannot be restricted. This means that for-profit organizations can give as much money as they want to support political candidates. Now, in this instance, both candidates benefited – and Hillary actually out raised Trump. But Trump said repeatedly said he’s going to do away with a lot of regulations on the coal and oil industry (and has already started doing so). This meant he had the support of powerful lobbies which represented the interests of people in key battleground states like North Carolina. It also means that politicians don’t need to appeal to the masses as much as they do their wealthy donors. Right now repealing Obamacare is drastically unpopular, but the GOP and Trump are pushing for it because it will provide a tax break to the wealthiest 1% of the population. GOP politicians are hoping they can win re-election with enough money, and not by adhering to what their constituents want.

Millions more people voted for Hillary than Trump. This becomes really confusing for a lot of people in countries where a simple majority will win you the election. In the United States, the presidency is determined by who gets more votes in the Electoral College, which is an antiquated system rooted in slavery. No, for real. See, back in the day, southern states had a large population of people (mostly slaves), but only a few people (white men) who could actually vote. Under a popular vote model, northern states would always win the election. The Electoral College, though, counted slaves as 3/5ths of a person (yes, yes it is fucked up) – so the more slaves you had, the more Electoral College votes you had. For states like Virginia, this is a big deal – if you won the state, you won all of its EC votes – and it had a ton. This is why so many of our early presidents were from Virginia. So the EC mitigates the votes of larger states, and overemphasizes the votes of smaller states. Because smaller states tend to go Republican, this creates some interesting electoral results.

Why do we still have the Electoral College, then? It’s something that a few states are reconsidering, but so far it hasn’t gotten a lot of traction. It’s very difficult to change U.S. institutions. Even our Constitution is 200 years old and it’s hard to update this stuff. Plus, people are worried that smaller states will not have their interests reflected in a national election.

Only 26% of eligible voters actually voted for Trump. He’s very much a fringe candidate. But his supporters were in the right states (see Electoral College, above). Trump ran as an outsider – but because he doesn’t have any experience in the political realm, he’s basically capitulated to what the GOP has wanted after getting elected. The GOP wants to destroy Obamacare (because, see above – it would mean tax breaks for their donors), which is something Trump specifically campaigned against. So what you have right now is an incompetent President going along with the doctrine of the Republican party – which was not even something the people who voted for Trump were in favor of.

(Source)

 

Why are the American people letting the government ban Muslims, take away healthcare, remove environmental restrictions, and cut funding to hundreds of organizations that benefit the public? Oof. I get this question all the time, and it’s a doozy, because here’s the thing: we aren’t. But there isn’t much that you can do after an election has taken place. The biggest checks to a president are Congress and Senate. Right now, Republicans control both of those – and they are all for the President’s plans. When the vote to repeal Obamacare came before Congress, not a single Democrat voted for it – but every single Republican congressperson (with the exception of 4) did. When Trump signed a ban on Muslims, it was an executive order – so it wasn’t even up to a vote. It was just sort of decreed. The only check on it was from the U.S. Attorney General – who, at the time, was Sally Yates. Trump immediately removed her from office and appointed Jeff Sessions. Sessions has a history of voter suppression and racism – he is not a check on the President’s racist decrees. Under Sessions, the DOJ claimed that precedent for the Muslim ban was a court case defending segregation of pools in the 1970s. So now the only way to stop Trump’s Muslim ban is from the lower courts – and they’ve been suing him, because that’s the only check on him that remains, and the case will likely end up going to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the GOP (who again, controls everything) managed to make sure that Scalia’s vacant seat, which should have gone to Merrick Garland, went to Neil Gorsuch – who is staunchly conservative and may tip a judgement made by the court in Trump’s favor.

Okay, but can’t you like, rebel? What about sanctuary cities? A lot of Trump’s more hateful orders – like his racist crackdown on immigrants who are working in the U.S. illegally – need to be enforced on a local level, so it stands to reason that cities (which tend to be far less conservative than rural areas and are also hubs for immigrants) could simply refuse to enact Trump’s orders. And indeed, many, including my own beloved Seattle have done just that by declaring themselves “sanctuary cities.” But that resistance is already getting stomped down. And both Attorney General Sessions and President Trump have threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. The governor of Texas just banned them in his state – threatening fines of up to $25,ooo a day to governmental entities that refuse to comply.

Why can’t you impeach him? Again, only Congress can do that. And there’s tons of grounds for why they could. The emoluments clause, for one (Trump never divested his private holdings, which supposedly he needed to do before taking office). But Congress is controlled by the GOP and Trump is doing their bidding, so they clearly aren’t going to vote to impeach. They’ll only get rid of him when he proves to be useless (there is a very clear scenario where they make him the scapegoat for all the unpopular legislation they’ve passed, and then get rid of him).

Plus, impeachment wouldn’t actually be great for us. See, Trump’s incompetent, but he wants the people to like him, and he might actually do the right thing in hopes that they will. But Pence – who would take office if Trump is impeached – is an incredibly dangerous human being. He caused an outbreak of HIV when he was governor of Indiana (he claimed that needle exchanges promoted drug use. They don’t.) and his stance on LGBTQ rights is abhorrent. Already a bubble has formed around the Vice-President, in an attempt to shield him from any wrong-doing on the whole Russia issue, so we can rest assured if Trump gets the boot, we’ll have to deal with President Pence.

Okay, how did the GOP get control of everything? This is crazy. The problem is that demographically, Democrats don’t vote in mid-term elections. Over the years, this meant that Republicans slowly took over more and more seats in the House and Senate. But wait – it gets worse. The second they gained control, Republicans set out to redistrict a lot of areas, ensuring that they would always have a majority of seats in state legislatures even if they were getting fewer votes than Democrats on a statewide level. In Michigan, for example, Republicans received 30,000 fewer votes that Democrats, but they hold 63 seats in the House of Representatives, as opposed to 47 for Democrats. But redistricting doesn’t fully explain the problem. There’s also been massive voter suppression efforts throughout America (in areas that have historically voted for Democrats). In Wisconsin, new voter ID laws meant that 200,000 people were unable to vote this election. Trump won the state by 22,000 votes.  And statistically, minority voters have to wait twice as long to vote as white voters. In Georgia, Karen Handel, a Republican who is running in a special election against Democrat Jon Ossoff was enraged to learn that voter registration had been extended – meaning more people would vote in her race. She described it as Democrats trying to steal the election.

So, this will get fixed in the next election, right? Maybe. Maybe not. The next midterm election is 2018. Republicans control everything until then. And even if the next election happens, the voter suppression and gerrymandering efforts mean that it doesn’t matter if Democrats turn out in greater numbers (because that’s what they’re doing in a lot of states now, and it doesn’t matter).

Aren’t you mad? Every day is a constant state of panic, grief, and disbelief. This is why my Twitter feed is a never-ending series of attempts to channel my rage into 140 characters. But here’s the thing: the world is moving in the right direction. The U.S. elected Trump, but since then 6 European elections have had Nationalists underperform compared to the polls. So I suppose I’m cautiously optimistic. (I’m also privileged as f*ck, and live in a city where more than 90% of the population voted for Hillary – which helps on the optimism front.)

Can’t you all, like … take to the streets or something? We have and we are. But it doesn’t seem to be working – GOP representatives are avoiding their Town Hall meetings, and as I mentioned before, repealing Obamacare was drastically unpopular but the GOP still axed it. There are also bills proposed in five states to criminalize peaceful protest, but I don’t think those will come to fruition.

Rand at one of several marches we’ve been to this year.

 

Wait, so … is it safe for me, as a foreigner, to come to the U.S.? Rand and I had a long talk about this and the conclusion we came to is … we have no idea. On Election Day, someone spat on him for wearing a t-shirt that said “FEMINIST”, and he’s seen an increase in anti-Semitic comments and threats in his Twitter feed and elsewhere (I’ve seen a couple, too). There have been a rise of anti-Semitic attacks, as well as numerous attacks on women wearing hijabs – but keep in mind this is mostly happening to Americans. There is a rise of White Nationalist (neo-Nazi) groups in America right now, so that’s something to be concerned about, too. The ACLU has also listed travel advisories for people heading to Texas and Arizona, based on treatment of immigrants and people of color. Trump’s travel ban has been stricken down (at least temporarily) but it’s safe to assume that if you are from one of the Muslim countries on the list (which also align to countries where Trump does not have hotels, incidentally) you may have trouble at border control. Oh, and apparently a lot of border control agents are asking people to unlock their phones so they can search through them (illegally). So … I’m sorry. I just don’t know. Do what you need to do to make yourself comfortable.

If you are looking for further reading about the political climate that gave birth to a Trump Presidency, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ piece for The Atlantic, “My President was Black” is excellent. The New Yorker‘s John Cassidy also took at look at the election in its immediate aftermath.


Also published on Medium.

Leave a Comment

  • Thank you for writing this Geraldine! I feel like it’s going to make explaining these easier since we get them during so many of our recent trips (and I’m sure we will for the next 4 years).

    I know we argue about this all the time already, but my nitpick remains — Nate Silver (and 538) gave Trump 1 in 3 odds of winning the election. That doesn’t mean he was “wrong!” 538’s projections were some of the most Trump-has-a-chance out there (vs. for example, the NYTimes, which gave Trump as low as 15-20% just before election day). Betting markets, which were, until this election, superb predictors, gave Trump worse odds than Nate Silver/538.

    Re: your point that news is big business and they need elections to be close — I think that’s more of a driving factor than even most Americans realize.. The Center for Responsive Politics estimated $6.8Billion wasspent on political advertising in 2016 (via http://www.cbsnews.com/news/election-2016s-price-tag-6-8-billion/), and Trump would have had no chance to win without the immense free news coverage he received. And a Harvard study last year confirmed the bias you described (https://www.good.is/articles/hillary-clinton-negative-press) in which Clinton received vastly less positive coverage while Trump received vastly more positive coverage than their actions or words during the campaign would generally garner. Despite this unequal, Trump-favoring treatment, most Americans actually still believed that the media favored and was biasing the coverage to Trump (http://www.gallup.com/poll/197090/majority-voters-think-media-favors-clinton.aspx). Perhaps it’s just too hard to believe that the guy really is as awful as all the things he says and does.

    As far as safety… I think America is certainly less safe and less welcoming than it was a year or two ago. The election clearly made a lot of racist, misogynist, xenophobic people feel justified in airing their views publicly and in holding those views. The oft-cited theory that “economic anxiety” was behind Trump’s election can be pretty obviously shot down (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/white-working-class-trump-cultural-anxiety/525771/) — data shows that Trump voters were more likely to be middle or upper class, while Clinton voters were more likely to be those experiencing economic pain (and yes, these stats hold up even if you’re only looking at white voters). So I’d feel a lot less safe visiting America, especially if I wasn’t white. I’m deeply ashamed of that reality, but denying it won’t make it go away.

  • I told my own husband the other day, “If we weren’t from America, I would never ever visit here right now.” Trump and his insanity – and the GOP’s willingness to go along for the ride as long as they can get their abhorrent policies jammed through against our will – are going to absolutely bottom out our tourist trade if border control and the TSA keep being used as a weird kind of secret thought police for anyone trying to come into the country.

    I told Jason on January 21st that I bet heavily on Trump turning ICE into his personal dictator’s security squad, and he’s made several strides towards doing just that by pushing ICE to break down the doors of undocumented immigrants, drag them out of hospitals while they were receiving treatment for a brain tumor, arrest them while they were in court trying like hell to escape an abusive partner, and harrass even legal immigrants who “look like they might be illegal” (huh, gee, wonder what “look” they’re talking about there). ICE already had a bad reputation – apparently under Trump they’ve decided to declare themselves Stormtroopers and be done with decency entirely.

    Add to that the increased comfort that awful people have with saying the awful things they think – and even otherwise mostly decent people have begun saying the awful things they used to know better than to express out loud. Now they think Trump is their megaphone, their sign that it’s okay to be absurdly, publicly racist once again.

    All I have for comfort is that states and cities keep standing up to him, keep resisting. We show up by the millions to tell our legislators to stop fucking around and start LISTENING to us already. They’re hiding because they’re (rightfully) scared of their own constituents. I have to hope this fear will eventually lead them to start HEARING us, if only out of their own self-interests.

    I’m watching the Jon Ossof race intently. Handel won the GOP aspect of the primary runoff largely because she’s one of the few Republicans who is still distancing herself heavily from Donald Trump. If she has to totally embrace Trump to get GOP support for her race, she’s LESS likely to win than if she doesn’t. So this will be interesting race to watch but God, the Democrats need to figure out how to take back the narrative and get progressives to vote, so we really need to win one to start gaining momentum.

    I tell people all the time – 65 million people voted for Hillary Clinton, nearly 66 million. Millions less than that voted for Donald Trump. But the millions that voted for him happened to live in states that are given a say disproportionate to their population because 18th-century white men were scared of the people they enslaved becoming free and able to speak up and be heard.

    • Also, I have a whole long rant about how the media has steadfastly REFUSED to acknowledge how their constant free coverage and insistent obsessive fearmongering about what was largely smoke and mirrors when it came to Hillary Clinton fucking ruined us all.

      • Merry Morud

        ^^^!!!! THIS!
        YES. It was only ever briefly mentioned shortly after the election, (if ever) — Um, yeah, he sure did get a lot of coverage. So about that…. , we couldn’t NOT cover him. But, buttttt Emails. And she didn’t go to Wisconsin. And she was unlikeable. Haven’t heard them whisper about their incessant coverage since Nov. 10th.

  • Stacy Egan

    I’ll just print this and bring it with me while I travel…
    I’ve been thinking often of what I can do as someone invested in equality for all: my first conclusion is that I’m going to have a lot of children to keep pace with conservative birth rate. I’m going to raise my children to embrace the differences of others and be forces of good in the world. I also live in a democrat minority state and city and will continue to show up and vote.

  • Angela Taylor Hylland

    This in an incredibly comprehensive and well-written piece, Geraldine. It sucks we have to try to explain all this, but you did so admirably. And I thought trying to explain Bush was bad! Little did I know…

  • Rose

    Please avoid political posts and write about your travels and other safe topics. You are alienating your readers, and why do that!

    People will be writing about this election cycle for decades. Hillary lost for many reasons. She was an unlikable candidate, a poor campaigner, (presumed a win in Wisconsin e.g.) and would continue the progressive policies of Obama which about half the country was ready to reject. Many voters I believe voted primarily for the promise of a more conservative supreme court pick.

    I don’t presume to have all the answers and few do. Is this an area of your expertise? I think not.

    One example of a misrepresentaton of facts is your use of the phrase “Muslim ban.” That fact should be qualified–and you should try to defend your country when you travel, not spread false media narratives.

    I don’t read your blog for your political commentary. Stick to Twitter if you must. I have been polite … but I am just as enraged about attitudes of people like you as you are enraged about the values of conservatives like me. I have some liberal friends but insist they stick to safe subjects. I would appreciate it if you would do the same.

    • Everywhereist

      Rose – It sounds like your caustic and hostile behavior have prevented your friends from being able to have conversations with you about important social issues. How sad. I have no intention to stop talking about this issue. Yes, it was a Muslim ban. Do whatever you can to try and convince yourself otherwise, if it helps you sleep at night. Alas, you won’t convince me. The President made it very clear.

      If you have a problem with what I’m writing about, you are free to go. In fact, I will get the door for you. But do not dare come into the comments section of my blog and tell me what I should or should not write about.

    • You have “liberal friends” but “insist they stick to safe subjects”? You are no kind of friend. For shame Rose. This is Geraldine’s blog, her platform, and she controls it. She’s free to delete your comment, ban your account, and never think about you again. She’s free to write about politics or religion or mental health or racism or travel or anything she wants. You are free to… you know what… you’re not worth it.

    • Merry Morud

      Rose, please avoid from telling writers what they should or shouldn’t write about.
      Plain and simple.
      You don’t come here for political commentary?
      Fine.
      Then just don’t read it.
      Sounds like you wasted your time.
      (And now ours. *sigh* Clearly, Geraldine and Rand know better than I & just let it go. But I, I will not – because frankly you are out of line.)

      Why should this have been written? (Why should a song be sung? Why should clay be moulded?)
      Quite honestly I, and judging from the comments here, many others needed this resource.
      Needed for this to be thoughtfully and eloquently stated.
      As someone who has traveled to 4 different countries so far in this young year, I’ve been deeply ashamed of our country, nearly wept in stranger’s arms, and frankly I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO RESPOND to “Donald Trump? WTF, mate?”.

      Who are you to deprive me, and all these other people, of a valuable resource?

      The sad thing about what happened over the course of the election is what you just stated:
      “I am just as enraged about attitudes of people like you as you are enraged about the values of conservatives like me.”

      I couldn’t agree more. But what I wont do is tell people what they should and shouldn’t write about.

      The goal of the rhetoric from Donald’s campaign was to not only whip racists, bigots and xenophobes into a frenzy, but to divide us as a nation.
      And it work.
      It f*cking worked.

      And if it wasn’t a “Muslim Ban” then why did Donald SAY THAT?! Why did he call for a Muslim ban all throughout the campaign? Why did Rudy go on the networks and (gleefully) say Trump approached him asking for a Muslim Ban and how they could make it legal:
      “How did the president decide the seven countries?” she asked. “Okay, talk to me.”

      Giuliani: “I’ll tell you the whole history of it…So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’ ”

      … notice how we haven’t seen Giuliani since? *gulp*

      Hey… how often do you see those liberal friends of yours that you’ve censored, btw?

  • jonathanwthomas

    Good summary of a lot of the issues. We were in England last February, the first time since our election and the Brexit referendum. Our friends asked us in disbelief about how Trump Happened. And we countered with disbelief about how Brexit happened. There is an international backlash against openness and liberalism and its scary. I hope it’s just temporary. It’s a mess. We are in the same boat as you and Rand. We are VERY angry with the way things are now. We feel like we’re getting screwed by the system and we worked out butts off to get where we are, with the same system trying to hold us down. The House voted away our health insurance last week. I don’t know what we’re going to do, I guess just go without it again (I really, really don’t want to tell me kids they can’t go to the doctor anymore). We’ve considered emigrating to somewhere else. Our natural choice would be the UK but it’s very hard to get in there unless you’re rich. We just bought a house, we like where we live. We don’t *want* to leave. We thought we could wait Trump out but I had a realization as he crossed the 100 day mark: he’s not going anywhere until 2018 at least. So the daily rage will just have to continue.

  • itstoospicy

    Thank you for such a thoughtful and measured response to a complex and terrifying situation – as a neighbor to the North I’ve been watching the events in the US closely as they unfold. Your country is lucky to have you as an ambassador for kindness, reason, empathy and grit.

  • Mr. Smith

    I’ve not been to Tokyo to see my in-laws since the election. We are going this summer. I am going to print this out and give it to anybody who asks about our current state of affairs as a country. Otherwise I would just shrug and mutter, “I dunno, man… I dunno…”

  • Everywhereist

    Somehow, somehow Rose, I will manage to survive without you reading my words. I might even sleep better knowing you won’t.

  • Everywhereist

    I’m try to carry on, somehow. 😀

    • Tina

      I’ll buy an extra to make up for it; we got you.

  • I’m living in Singapore right now and nearly every day I get questions like these “Why are the American people letting the government ban Muslims, take away healthcare, remove environmental restrictions, and cut funding to hundreds of organizations that benefit the public?” and various others that I in no way know the answers to, so this was really helpful. I was living in London during the primary elections, where even though I wasn’t living in a big US city, we still had that false sense of security that “nothing like that will ever happen”, and I was just like those ABC commentators who laughed at anyone who said Trump would be the republican nominee, so clearly, I know nothing.

  • Veena

    You are amazing. Thank you for this.

  • Write on, Geraldine, and never let the trolls and haters slow you down, though I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to. Thank you for the facts and for voicing what so many of us have been searching for words to explain.

  • simonjpierce

    Wow. This is brilliant. Thanks Geraldine!

  • Viviana N

    Finally someone had the decency to spell out thorough answers to the disbelief of us non-U.S. citizens!
    Thank you so much Geraldine for taking up the courage and speak up for everyone else. I’m Italian, been travelling this and the other side of the world over the past few years and not once have I met an unlikable American while on my trips. As a matter of fact, I’ve only ever come across brilliant, fun and witty U.S. people like you everywhere I’ve been. Hence the dismay when realising Trump had turned into a shocking reality. “What the hell’s just happened to America?!”.
    Thanks to your post I can see how it’s the bl***y system that got us. As ever, as in every country, the establishment protects itself, its own privileges and agendas.

    If travel doesn’t open your mind and make you see the truth for what it really is, and yes – politics is also an important side of such reality- then what’s the whole point of it, really? These are dark times and unfortunately we now even have to bother with self-righteous censors who are being validated by current authoritarian leaders across the world. But we absolutely can’t let them have the last word over our rights now, can we?

    Keep posting on whatever your passion is, Geraldine, and let’s keep marching together.

  • All About Sana

    Hi G! Thank you for posting this rather long post (i admit I didn’t read all of it :)). You know, I may be in a minority here, but I like President Trump. Don’t get me wrong, I voted for Hilary in the election and supported her all through the process, but sometimes things go one way and I go another way. Please note that during the election, I watched what would be deemed as “Liberal media” and they BASHED Trump to no end. His taxes, the way he talked, his wives, their immigration status, his children, his divorces, everything was discussed and it is humiliating how low media can go to get a story. And he wan’t afraid to be the underdog when it came to Russia. I like Putin. He has done wonders for Russia whether people agree or not. I am not sure why Putin was put down because he supported Trump. Seems like he was punished for his opinion. Just because Trump had unpopular views doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be liked. Also why do we have electoral college and is it fair? I think it is 100% fair. If it was left to the popular vote, no other party would ever win but the majority liberals. This way everything political is cyclical and each party gets a chance. What about 3rd parties? Sorry, but they are not impressive. This is my two cents!!!

  • Watching US politics unfold is horrifying for someone who isn’t even American. I am saddened and angered for you about the healthcare bill. It is absolutely baffling and disgusting that something so backward would get approved. What also concerns me is that with the state of British politics at the moment, and the likelihood that the Conservatives will get back in, is that we will eventually end up with a system like yours, which doesn’t help actual people at all.

    Similarly, the media also had a huge part to play in the Brexit vote and is having a huge impact on the general election. I know a lot of people who regret their vote to leave because they believed media lies. We had local elections last week and the Conservatives gained a lot of seats because the media love making Labour out to look like hippy idiots who want to help people (god forbid politicians actually help the general public.) I try to refrain from watching the news too much because it scares me a lot, and makes me feel helpless.

  • Geraldine, thank you for putting this together. I tend to black out from rage / despair when I think too hard about any of this, so I admire and applaud your ability to write such a cohesive essay without giving yourself a stroke.

  • Another Democrat who thinks voting Democrat will magically fix our fucked up system. That there is the #1 reason nothing is getting any better. We don’t need more Democrats, we need a country-wide popular revolt.

  • James Ezell

    Oh, Rose…Rose, Rose, Rosie, Rose. You’re ridiculous. Many of us who love Geraldine and Rand will buy even more books than planned just because of you. And good riddance to ya!

  • Kate Wilson

    I have never read a better explanation of things political. Thank you for such a clear and considered piece. I have list of stuff I don’t understand that I may send you – to work through in your own time of course 🙂

  • Chris Arkills

    Thank you so much for posting this. I wanted to ask you this very question at Town Hall. Travel is fun and enlightening, but also political.

  • Anthropologal

    Since I moved to Norway in January, and there’s some new fresh hell to discuss every single day with regards to Trump, I’ve considered making a t-shirt and having multiples printed that says “Please don’t ask me about Trump.” I feel horrible as an immigrant that I can’t do more from where I’m at… I’d probably run for office if I was still home. I told my Trump-voting mother while I was home picking up my dog over Easter that I wouldn’t be coming back to the US for awhile because of her president. This whole situation sucks and I’m sorry we (and the rest of the world) are having to deal with it. I remember trying to explain all of this crap about American elections and the popular vote when I visited Norway in 2003 so it feels like a broken record to me now. Thanks for your post and hope to see you in Europe sometime again soon.

  • MILK&Whiskey

    I wish I’d have had this when I was traveling in Ireland last month. Just as a little handout to pass around whenever someone copped on to me being an American. It’s a lot to explain!

  • Thank you for writing this. I need to print it out and take it with me whenever I do leave the US. I’d also add alongside the media, there was the Facebook effect, which tends to push A LOT of misinformation to voters (thanks to their algorithm on what appears at the top of and in people’s feeds).

    I’m horrified every single day when I wake up and open my Twitter feed and news outlets. It’s like a nightmare that just has no ending in sight.

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