Like most people, I avoid talking about politics. Living in Europe, and during this presidential election, that means especially American politics.
I think Trump, everything he is and stands for, particularly shocks Europeans. They are very fond of Hillary: tax the wealthy until the last penny (the word “socialist” is a compliment here), make everything public from preschool to healthcare, liberalize abortion and same-sex marriage all you can, guns kill people, we’re doing all we can to fight terrorism, very politically correct… That is basically every European politician.
Even Hillary’s private life and her husband’s impeachment is no big deal. European politicians cheat too. They are even openly homosexual and atheist, something that doesn’t usually happen in the United States.
But Trump? Now that’s shocking. My family and friends cannot understand how someone like Trump could have a chance at being president of the United States. I used to think the same way, until I saw the presidential debates.
I had purposefully never seen Trump talk until the presidential debates. The only Republican debate I watched was the one Trump wasn’t present in. So when I watched the three debates between Trump and Hilary I was very surprised.
I felt like I somewhat understood how Trump got where he is and also why he is so shocking. He reflects the American spirit and the American spirit is unique. It is different from the European spirit. Not better, not worse, but different.
Trump is a cowboy
Of course, not literally. He is actually a millionaire tycoon born in New York. I remember my high school history teacher explaining how in the beginning of the United States the East Coast started getting overpopulated, especially in the cities. The movement to the West was like a letting out of steam, he said. Only the courageous settlers and pioneers went West. It takes a lot of courage and determination to settle in lands that haven’t been settled before. Read no further than Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Trump said in the last question of the second debate that one thing he admires in Hilary is that she is a fighter. I would say he is a fighter, too in this “cowboy” sense of the term. Even just in this presidential race, he presents himself as fearless, defying the system, fighting against what he says is Hillary’s “machine” she has behind her and the media who are against him.
He values the military and has mentioned many times how proud he is of his military endorsements. Aggression and military strength are things that he is at ease with, while Hillary and Europeans shy away from them.
The second amendment is in peril, says Trump. Guns are perhaps the most controversial topic ever here in Europe, because Europeans simply can’t understand why the government shouldn’t keep guns away from its people. Yet, even Hilary said in the third debate that she respects the cultural tradition of bearing arms in the United States that goes back to the founding fathers.
I think this topic especially touches on the American spirit and can only be understood with its founding. Of course you needed a gun to settle the West, where there were bears and wolves and cattle thieves. Laura Ingalls Wilder says in her books that she fell asleep easily at night with Pa’s gun above their door and their dog sleeping outside.
Trump is not politically correct
Okay, sometimes he is rude. However, this is refreshing to many people who are tired of not only politicians being “politically correct” (read: dishonest and deceiving), but everyone being almost obligated to be politically correct. There are numerous things that you can’t call by their name, because people think if you change the name of it you will take out the racism/sexism/discrimination/etc. associated with it.
One of the questions specifically for Hillary in the second debate was if she thought it was okay to say one thing to one group of people and say another thing to another group of people. She basically answered that, yes, she thinks that’s being smart and knowing how to lead.
Trump, on the contrary, is a loose cannon. He is unpredictable and sometimes loses his cool. He says ridiculous things and sometimes takes them back. He also says funny things and has no fear of insulting people to their face. “What have you been doing these last 30 years?” “Are you kidding? No, your husband did a TERRIBLE job”, he says to Hillary.
I think people appreciate that in him. He is more authentic and genuine than any other well-groomed, perfectly rehearsed politician we’ve ever seen.
Trump is decadent
Unfortunately, Trump is not a cowboy in moral character. He is not a gentleman, he doesn’t protect women and children and he probably doesn’t respect his momma. On the contrary, he is the product of an oversexualized, godless, career-first, money-driven, entertainment-centered culture.
Unfortunately, this also reflects the current state of the American spirit. There are certain very powerful things, namely pornography, television, entertainment, money, etc., that are taking over the cultural identity. How could someone with no experience in politics whatsoever, who was the star of a reality show, become president of the United States?
My theory is that the voters also are no longer educated in politics. They pick who they like to watch, who they know, who satisfies their immediate desires.
This is a far cry from the family based, “In God We Trust”, Judeo-Christian, white-picket fence roots of the United States and especially politicians of the past. The private and family life of both candidates is a far cry from what has traditionally been required of presidents. Trump’s “locker room talk” in the bus and his three marriages are really not all that shocking when you compare it to what you see when you turn on the TV.
Is Trump a great candidate? By no means. Is Trump an “evil” candidate? In my opinion, also by no means. Trump does reflect an interesting cultural phenomenon and the American spirit again longing for change and adventure.