Americans Abroad

There are Americans all over South America. Not too many (how many would that be?) and definitely Americans of the right kind. You see them in the departure lounges, at the carousels, at breakfast, climbing glaciers and frolicking in the pool. You can hear them too, and there’s one word on their lips. It’s not ‘Hillary’, nor is it ‘Sanders’. It’s ‘Trump’, and you hear it before you even ask them the obvious question. In every case, so far, it’s pronounced with a snarl of disbelief, or anger. Mitch, from Colorado, holidaying in Patagonia, added some colour to the name – ‘****ing Trump’.

I haven’t yet met a single American supporter of Donald Trump (nor any other supporter, for that matter), either in Europe or in South America. They’re all appalled, and they’re all afraid. I ask them, ‘Is it possible that Donald Trump might be elected President?’ and none is sure that it’s impossible. None of them would put money on his defeat.

He’s likened by some to one of those fairground snake-oil salesmen, of the kind you might find in Mark Twain. He’s a buffoon, a charlatan, but everyone agrees that he’s dangerous.

All in all, I’d still rather have this….


than this…


or this…


or this…


So, if they’re not the Americans abroad whom I’ve seen and talked to in Europe and South America, who are Donald Trump’s supporters?

They’re often depicted by the media as the angry and disaffected, whom the arrogant political establishment doesn’t understand, or they’re victims of inequality, or globalisation. But, on CNN, this morning I saw an interview with Jonathan Weiler, who, together with Marc Hetherington, in 2009, published Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics. Jonathan Weiler made the point that the most accurate predictor, to date, of who might be attracted by politicians of the Trump variety, has nothing to do with race, or gender, or income, or ‘hand’ size, but, rather, attitudes to parenting, an indicator of authoritarianism in the broadest sense of valuing order and authority over independence and pluralism.

What characteristics do you value in children?

  • independence or respect for their elders;
  • curiosity or good manners;
  • self-reliance or obedience;
  • being considerate or being well-behaved?

If you prefer the second characteristic in every case, then you’re more likely to be a Trump supporter. I prefer the first, in all four cases, though, having no children, I’m not speaking from experience. And I’m for Hillary. She’s far from perfect, but she’s the best candidate in the circumstances.

See Trump and Parenting and Authoritarianism.


2 thoughts on “Americans Abroad

  1. Adam, what also explains the rise of Trumpism is exactly that which drove Germans to vote for AFD this weekend.

    All over the so-called democratic world an elite of professional politicians with tin ears have installed themselves as the arbiters of politically correct thinking, and politically correct behavior, which generally means thinking the same as them.

    Angela Merkel, for whom I once had the greatest respect, is an example of this.

    No one outside Germany elected her for their leader, but alone she made the decision to open the doors to a massive migration, not only of migrants fearing for their lives, but those just looking for a better one. Now she has backtracked, but still defends her original decision and blames everyone else for not following her lead.

    Doubling down, she has now tried to do what turns out to be an unenforceable “deal” with the Turkish dictator, Recep Erdogan, to bail her out. We all know how that will go, but Merkel does not apparently. But then, she recently expressed sudden surprise at the high levels of antisemitism among so many of the refugees she invited, many without proven documentation, into our midst, and now she and her like minded political and media friends throughout Europe blame anyone who speaks out against this entirely predictable chaos as being “racist” or worse.

    The result is the rise of AFD, also entirely predictable when there is no alternative discourse allowed among those who have placed themselves in charge of our every breathing moment.

    I bring Merkel into this Trump phenomena because it is the other side of the same coin

    I believe this disaster in the USA is a result of the same mentality of a political class showing no interest in the people they were elected by to represent them.

    As in Europe, they exist only to further their own careers. They make promises but never keep them. The era of “Hope and Change” is over and for too many there was neither Change nor hope.

    Here is a snippet from Andrew McCarthy writing in the conservative National Review:

    “There is an intense intramural fight on the right at the moment. It is mainly about anger and the sense of betrayal: Americans are frightened and incensed over what has happened to our country economically, culturally, and security-wise during the Obama years. On our side of the political aisle, there is outrage at the passivity — at times, the complicity — of the party that boldly vowed to stop it, and then, upon being given the chance, raised the white flag on Capitol Hill.

    Trump is a narcissist who has made a career of seeing Washington as a rigged game to exploit, not dismantle. Opportunistically, Donald Trump has seized on the rage.

    I don’t know Mr. Trump, but I know people who do, people who like and admire him even if they often disagree with him. I take their word for it that he loves the country and is genuinely appalled by what Obama has done to it. It doesn’t solve my problem: Trump is so hopelessly out of his depth that he does not see, even now, how Obama is the logical result of the big-government policies and Beltway progressives Trump has lavished support on for decades — and will wheeler-deal with if he makes it to the Oval Office. Trump has a showman’s ear for the things people want to hear, the talent to say them as if he meant them, the “hit ’em back twice as hard” bravado that draws in people who’ve taken a beating, and the shrewdness to pepper his flamboyance with flashes of humility — connecting with people whose shoes he has never walked in, letting them in on the secret that it’s all just a shtick. And as president . . . he’d be a disaster.”

    Normally I would say that with so many Republican voters coming out and saying they will never vote for Trump, I would agree with you that Clinton will probably be elected despite her many shortfalls, and I say here and now that in a contest between Trump and Clinton, I share the same hopes as to who prevails as do you.

    But the sad fact is that an unknown number of Democrat voters and Independents are also fed up with the GOP vs DNC status quo. And because Clinton is such a weak and compromised candidate who garners little enthusiasm or trust even among Democrats, I fear now this awful man could prevail with their help. There is an article in The Guardian about all this. Not all Trump voters are those living on the margins of Right wing ideology.

    Like Germany and the AFD, Trump is a wake up call. I am certain that a decent measured response from Merkel saying “we hear you and we will listen” will bring sanity back to those, the “protest voters” who just want a say in how they live their lives and are allowed to think and so voted for the AFD.

    Trump will fail his supporters if elected as President, and will probably suffer the same fate as any rejected leader, hated by all those who believed in him.

    The question then is what will follow? More of the same or something even worse?


    • Stephen, thanks for your comment. I agree with some, if not all, of it! I support Merkel still. I don’t know what else she could have done. Other leaders were just grateful that it was she who accepted the refugees, and they let her down seriously when she called for ‘solidarity’. It was ghastly, of course, that some of the newcomers should behave and speak so appallingly. Let’s hope they were and are few. Frustration with establishment politics is today’s thing. What to do about it?


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