Muftic: The challenge of explaining Trump to foreigners
August 19, 2016
I was in Europe during the US political conventions, but thanks to You Tube, Yahoo News and the online reporting, I still followed the events, speeches, and spins via internet. I thought only I was glued to the news, but I found so was everyone I encountered in Europe, from taxi drivers, wait staff, relatives, business associates, and friends, from all corners of Europe, including Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Croatia. They could not wait to ask me about what I thought of Donald Trump, and with nearly universal angst, asked," you don't think he will win, do you? " A recent Pew poll showed only 9 percent of Europeans favorably viewed Trump (Clinton rated 59 percent favorable). Many quoted to me the most recent polling and wondered how 40% of Americans could even support him. Terms I heard were " he is a clown, but it would be funny if it were not so serious " , fearing repercussions for their own countries since "whatever happens in the US affects us". Another said "if Trump wins, all of Europe will boycott the USA". While all were facing similar movements in their own countries of anti-immigration, especially alarmed with the flood of Syrian refugee, mass killings by jihadists, or complaining about their countries' economic standing, they seemed to focus on his temperament and ignorance more than they connected him to the ideology of the resurgence of their right wingers. I did say I thought Trump's rise had similarities with those movements because of the anti- immigration issues and economic malaise he had tapped. The mood of his base is similar to those who voted for Brexit, the United Kingdom's popular vote this spring resulting that country's exit from the European Union.
So how did I answer? I would make no predictions, though post conventions polls show significant gains for Hillary Clinton. This election is like none I ever experienced. It has reached the level of irrationality. Facts and position papers on issues seem not to matter. Utterances by Trump are geared to reflect the preconceived notions of his ardent base, allowing him to get away with comments that would have disqualified others in traditional races before. For many, Trump agrees with them so what he says must be true, ignoring independent fact checkers. This race has devolved into a contest between who is the biggest liar and who has the right temperament. The other factor causing uncertainty.is minority parties playing an unusual role in this year's campaign because both nominees of the two dominating parties are viewed negatively by so many.. It is not yet settled how many in the GOP would vote for a libertarian and how many Bernie Sanders supporters would vote Green, It is highly likely the person elected President in November will not have 50 percent plus 1 of the popular vote but will win the electoral college vote. States set their own rules and most award winner take all electoral college votes to the candidate with the largest popular vote in their state. However, the minor parties could still influence the outcome by diverting votes from either major candidate, splitting off votes that would have otherwise gone to that candidate in prior years.
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