Tuesday, November 08, 2016

As the World Looks at U.S. Elections It Holds Its Breath, and Its Nose

This campaign in which Donald Trump kept claiming he’d make America great again has, in fact, made it seem much smaller to the rest of the world.

Every four years, when American presidential elections roll around, there is one almost universal refrain that can be heard half in jest, and half not, from Patagonia to Penang, Oslo to Ouagadougou: “Everyone should be able to vote in the American election,” people will tell American visitors, “since we are all stuck with your president’s policies.” The United States “is so important to the world,” says a Saudi friend, “it’s as if we were electing an emperor—or an empress!”

But never in modern history has the world watched the process with such curiosity, puzzlement, fear and loathing—or what may be worse, fear and laughing—as it has the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. “For the last year, American democracy has become a circus,” writes Germany’s Der Spiegel, “one in which the most outlandish gag gets the most applause.” Der Spiegel’s cover carries an image of Clinton and Trump (impersonators, I believe) covered in mud.

We can all read the headlines as the international press vies for the most sensational summing up of American insanity. Here in Paris, the current issue of Le Monde calls it “La Folle Campagne,” the mad campaign. The French left-wing daily Libération recently ran an ominous too-close-up of the Republican nominee’s face with the blaring headline “Frankentrump!” and Tuesday’s front page has a truly bizarre profile photo of the hirsute Republican, making him look like a werewolf in front of the moon. The popular tabloid Le Parisien put Trump and Clinton bobbleheads on its cover Tuesday with the headline, “The American Dream?” Read More

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