Reporter's Notebook

Global Reactions to Trump’s Victory
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Readers around the world share their uncertainties and fears about a Trump presidency. If you’re a non-American in a country outside the U.S. and would like to add your perspective, please send us a note (especially if your country isn’t mentioned yet):

Show None Newer Notes

‘The Establishment Left Them to Rot’: Views From the U.K.

The morning after the U.S. presidential election, my colleague Krishnadev touched on the “striking parallels” between Trump’s victory and Brexit:

The polls tightened in the last few days before the vote. The establishment dismissed that as an aberration. While some citizens complained about being forgotten, about increased immigration, and a lack of meaningful jobs, elected officials spoke of the benefits of globalization and trade. [...] Although the political establishment and the chattering classes may have dismissed Trump’s chances, [he] had consistently predicted that he was “going to do something so special.” It will, he said, be “Brexit plus, plus, plus.” He was right.

We made a callout for non-American Atlantic readers who live outside the U.S. to share their reactions to the gobsmacking results of Election Day. (Use to share your own from abroad.) Here’s Martin with “a view from the U.K.”:

The reasons for Trump’s victory and for Brexit are rather similar: the revolt of the white provincial working class marooned in regions that were once the heavy industrial heartlands and where, for a century, communities shared a common culture and felt proud of their lives. Technology and globalisation destroyed these communities and the establishment parties who didn’t speak their language, didn’t hear them, and left them to rot.

Donald Trump shakes hands with Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage at a campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi, on August 24, 2016. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

The phenomenon of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn is the revolt of a different group—leftish graduates and intellectuals. But there is one similarity with the Trump/Brexit movement: Both the Rust Belt and the Ivory Tower felt that the national conversation was not touching on what they, their friends, and their colleagues at work felt were the big issues.

In the case of British graduates, it’s the lack of affordable housing, the privatisation and monetisation of public services coupled with no consideration of the ethics, values, and purpose of these services. The establishment parties reduced the language to generic “political speak,” degraded the autonomy and judgement of professionals, and replaced them with management consultants’ reports, guidelines, and box ticking, leading to failure despite financial investment. This graduate revolt is also rooted in the everyday experience of those working in the frontline of public service.

Once Bernie and Corby voiced these concerns, the graduates turned up to town-hall meetings and turned up to vote. However, what Bernie-style politicians have failed to do is to find a language that connects with the Rust Belt communities. Unless they can find a way of doing this, Trump will last a long time and many more Trumps will spring up—even in Europe.

Are you British and want to share your personalized U.K.-centric view of Trump/Brexit, or of the U.S. election more generally? Drop us a note and we’ll include. (Other countries to come.)

Another reader flags a viral video from British comedian Tom Walker, seen below. Walker plays a news reporter named Jonathan Pie, who unleashes an impressive NSFW rant about his lack of surprise that Trump won: It’s a result of overreach by the far left in America, he insists. The annoying camerawork in the video and Pie’s overheated affect is a bit much, but those aspects might just be a satirical skewing of the Glenn Becks and YouTube ranters of the world. Check it out for yourself. He touches on Brexit and covers a lot of the points raised by the Trump voters and anti-Trump voters we’ve been hearing from in Notes:

Update from James, “a Canadian living in my adopted city London, where EU arrogant elites got slaughtered by the same heartland vote that propelled Trump to victory last week”:

A TV screen is pictured in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, on November 9, 2016. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

For a primer on how precarious relations are between Germany and the U.S. following Trump’s win, don’t miss Frum’s piece from yesterday, “America’s Friendship With Europe Has Been Horribly Damaged”—and “nowhere,” he writes, “does the reaction look more dangerous than inside the most powerful state on the European continent, Germany.”

[Trump’s victory] up-ends German political assumptions about the United States, at a time when Germans are already ready to have those assumptions up-ended. The mighty German middle is becoming less mighty, discredited by Angela Merkel’s flung-open door to Middle Eastern refugees. Anti-refugee, pro-Putin forces are gaining strength at the expense of the parties of the center. Two-thirds of Germans oppose a fourth term for Merkel.  

Merkel has backed herself into a crazy political dead-end. She is identifying an open-door immigration policy as the foundation of her kind of liberalism—even as, in reality, large-scale immigration is helping destroy liberalism across the countries of Europe, and even within Germany itself. Warning that a Trump-led United States might not espouse values of democracy, freedom, the rule of law, and equal human dignity amounts to a passport for Germany out of the U.S. alliance.

Three German readers sent us dispatches from Deutschland last week reacting to Trump’s win and what it might mean for their country. My favorite one is from this first reader, Dariusch, given his heterodox views:

I’m an (atheist) German-Iranian, born and raised in Germany, living in Berlin with a background in political science, currently owning a cafe and maintaining a one-person video production company. I’m a green left winger, critical of some aspects of globalisation and welcoming of others. Unlike many left wingers in Europe and Germany, I don’t have a black-white view of the world or the United States. Things are too complicated for that.

On the morning of November 9th, my girlfriend checked out a News alert on her phone and yelled out „Oh my god! Trump has won!“ I just broke out in hysterical laughter, because it seemed so unreal that a clown would be the next president of a country that shaped European and German culture and politics so tremendously over the past 70 years.

If Trump goes along with his foreign policy plans of not honoring NATO commitments in Europe, that might actually have positive effects over here, as this could be a driver for more inner-EU cooperation regarding the security architecture in our neighbourhood.

An Indian man in Kolkata reads a Bengali language newspaper with "Trumped" on the front on November 10, 2016. Bikas Das / AP

Our first reader note from the subcontinent is from Jaiganesh:

Last Wednesday morning was a shock not only to the U.S., but to the whole world. While leaders of world nations voiced passive aggressive congratulatory messages, the global community watched in horror as President-elect Trump gave his victory speech. Then the world stock markets dipped, gold prices surged, the Mexican peso took a nose dive, and we witnessed the first fallout of a potentially free trade restrictive America in making.

India was already recovering from Prime Minister Modi’s retaliation against corruption while the U.S. was still up for grabs. To put it delicately, India was in denial. The immensely young Indian population was astonished to find a reality TV show joke on his way to the White House.

Why was there such a reaction from us, and the rest of the world? Why did the majority of the Indian population found it implausible to believe that Trump was now the President–elect of the United States? Here’s why.

A Clarin newspaper with a headline reading "Trump was winning and U.S begins an era that shocks the world" is delivered outside a building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 9, 2016. Natacha Pisarenko / AP

Our latest look around the world takes us to Argentina:

Hello, I’m Boris from Buenos Aires, and I want to bring a different Latin American (South America) perspective to the U.S. elections, if my knowledge allows it. This was a year of deep changes to the region, as exactly 12 months ago Mauricio Macri won against Peronist heir Daniel Scioli in a upset election. Then were the elections in Peru and the ouster of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. And now the world is changing again, with two important questions for the Southern Cone that a Trump’s victory raises.

The first one is the hemispheric question. Macri’s slogan last year was “to open Argentina to the world,” especially with the United States. The “PJ,” the Peronist party, was protectionist like Trump and an ally of Russia and China. When Macri won, Obama visited Buenos Aires as Bill Clinton did it two decades ago. Susana Malcorra, our secretary of state, wished publicly on Monday for a Hillary Clinton presidency.

After Rousseff's impeachment a couple of months ago, Michel Temer [the new president of Brazil] and Macri developed an understanding to join the regional bloc, Mercosur, to a free trade zone such as the Pacific Alliance, TPP, or a free trade deal with the U.S. and the E.U. Now nobody know what will happen because with the last Republican U.S. president, Washington basically forgot about the region except to fight with Venezuela. Two important governments in dire need (both Macri and Temer face great internal opposition that has Russia’s backing) are seeing how their principal path to victory is closing because of bad timing.

A Muslim woman in Lagos, Nigeria, on November 10 reads a newspaper with the headline "Trump shocks the world.” Sunday Alamba / AP

Last month, a reader in Nigeria named Shayera Dark sent us a long note criticizing the culture of political correctness in the U.S. Her smart polemic didn’t have a place in Notes at the time, but after we began this reader series on global reactions to Trump’s victory, I thought of Shayera, so I asked her what she thinks of the U.S. election. Her response isn’t easily categorized:

As a woman, Hillary’s loss was a great disappointment. She came prepared but lost to an egomaniac. I believe Trump’s win only reinforces toxic masculinity and meanness. You can be a straight shooter without being odious.

The day after the election, I did a vox pop [an interview with members of the public] in a cafe in Lagos. Most people were surprised and disappointed that Trump won, but they didn’t think his presidency would affect Nigeria substantially. They had a let’s-wait-and-see view.

Personally, I think Trump’s presidency might be a boon for Africa. Say he decides to cut aid to the continent: That could be the beginning of the end of Nigeria’s perpetual debt cycle, and then perhaps true representation via taxation will finally take root. Nigerian leaders would be forced to listen to electorates instead of foreign donors.

Also, if he refuses to honour trade agreements, trade restrictions across the continent may loosen, and with free movement of goods and people comes the opportunity for African countries to grow their economies.

What else could a Trump presidency mean for Nigeria? He didn’t discuss Nigeria or sub-Saharan Africa on the campaign trail, so there’s not much to go on. Some Nigerians are worried he might pull support to fight Boko Haram. A secessionist group hoping to restore Biafra—a region of southeast Nigeria that existed as an independent republic between 1967 and 1970—cheered Trump’s victory. Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa—about 40 percent of Nigerians follow Islam—so they could be impacted by the Muslim ban that Trump campaigned on (but whose top advisors have dialed back following the election).

If you live in Nigeria, or sub-Saharan Africa more generally, and you’d like to share your take on the U.S. election, please send us a note. In the meantime, here’s that pre-election note from Shayera critiquing PC culture—a common sentiment of Trump voters in this popular Notes thread:

I’ll start this piece with a confession: I am Nigerian, not American, and I’ve never stepped foot in America. But I do follow American politics and culture enough to know a consummate salesman/former reality show host and a lawyer/former first lady/senator/secretary of state are both running for president. I’ve heard and read enough of Donald Trump’s empty speeches and sexist utterances to know he will feel right at home in Nigeria’s political sphere, where a senator allegedly threatened a female colleague with rape and the president’s speechwriter cribbed President Obama’s 2008 victory speech to launch President Buhari’s #ChangeBeginsWithMe campaign. So much for change.

As an observer of American culture, I’m intrigued by America’s obsession with political correctness and it’s knack for taking offense in everything and anything.