When newly-elected President Obama toured the world in Spring 2009, just after his inauguration, the conservative media in the US lambasted him as embarking on an ‘apology tour’. Where George W. had been strong, they cried, Barack Obama was weak and a coward, apologising to their enemies for the US protecting itself. Ludicrous as these claims seem, they are perfectly demonstrative of how much of the US still feels about foreign opinions: they should fear our power, and cooperate accordingly.
Now, there’s a candidate leading the field in the burning corpse of the Republican Party who is xenophobic, sexist, racist and reliant on 18th-century foreign policy principles. He, more than anyone, will send out the feeling that he doesn’t care what a bunch of Europeans think of him. So, when Oxford students march to protest the candidacy of Donald Trump, don’t think he will hear about it, much less address it in any way. But do these largely British students really have the right to meddle in the politics of my home country?
Let’s consider for a second how the election of a President Trump would play out for Europe financially. The US is still the world’s largest economy and is especially important in financial and service sector economic development, meaning the advanced economies of Europe are intrinsically tied to our own. There’s no doubt world stock-markets would collapse with a Donald Trump presidency: at the very thought of his nomination, the FTSE 100 fell 50 points following his Super Tuesday success. Few have faith that his leadership would offer stability, so a Donald Trump presidency would bring economic turmoil for Europe.
Donald Trump is strong, though, right? He’ll secure the world: the US will get tired of winning because he’ll win so much. That, or his foreign policy agenda will spell disaster. Trump has praised Putin as a strong leader, saying he would “get along well with” the Russian leader: hardly a stabilising force in a militarising Europe. His support from far-right political figures like Jean-Marie Le Pen, who said “if [he] were American, [he] would vote Trump”, is doubly worrying, because his presidency could give those dangerous candidates an even larger spotlight on the international stage, endangering the fragile European Union even more.
As for terrorism, the US is isolated and for the most part much safer than Europe can be from violent extremists, as the tragic events in Belgium and Paris demonstrate. Donald Trump would only make this kind of threat more likely. Hillary Clinton was incorrect in saying Trump was being used in recruitment videos, but he may as well be. His calls for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” is one of many statements that fuel the so-called Islamic State’s image of the West as unwelcoming and alienating to Muslims. He will make ISIS more dangerous; he will destroy America’s treasured belief of our own morality for a false sense of security; he will damn the world with his short-sighted xenophobia.
Across Europe, governments are grappling with refugee and migration crises, set to grow in the coming months. Will this potential leader of a land once so welcoming of immigrants, adopted home of Albert Einstein, Yoko Ono and Arnold Schwarzenegger set an example for his counterparts in Europe? In his own words, “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” Perhaps not.
In December, the world struck a deal to mitigate the effects of climate change. Yet, the largest historical carbon polluter still has a major political party denying the science of the deal or the practicality that it could be carried out. Have no doubt, Donald Trump will destroy the advances made by the Obama Administration. This is the same man that tweeted: ‘The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.’ Electing Trump would once again set the world on a catastrophic path, endangering everyone from the Marshallese to the Dutch.
So, should students here be allowed to care about who we in America elect? Absolutely. The US President may be our specific leader, but we expect him or her to lead the world, to side with humanity, civility and science, to push the world in the right direction. Donald Trump would do none of these if elected. The British and everyone else in this world have a vested interest in the US Military not becoming the plaything of an egomaniac, the world financial market not collapsing, immigration debates not becoming a farce, extremism — Islamist and far-right — not growing and the climate not being destroyed. As the US continues to play the most important role in preventing these things, the rest of the world should express their opinions about our choices. Will the conservative media or much of the US agree with me? No. But that shouldn’t stop you.