The sneers never came. What's striking about being in Europe right now, as opposed to during the Bush years, is that everyone is taking
Bush, with his base of religious conservatives and Cabinet full of hawks, seemed typically American. Trump is hitting much closer to home for Europeans. His victory seems connected to events such as the United Kingdom’s vote to exit the
The fake news articles that contaminated Facebook and aided Trump’s rise, moreover, aren’t just an American problem: German Chancellor
The worry among Europeans is not that Americans are stupid and voted for someone with no policy-making experience — it's that an outcome like Trump's election could very well happen in their own countries. Or, worse, that the world is becoming less democratic altogether. New research forthcoming in the Journal of Democracy finds that popular support for liberal democracies around the world is on the decline — and support for autocratic alternatives is rising, even in many stable Western nations long thought to be beacons of freedom.
Europeans don't see me as a visitor from a backward nation that's trying to drag the world down with it (as some did during the Bush years). They see me as an ambassador from the future, someone who's starting to cope with life a country in which the worst has happened.
"The events of the last months and days should be treated as a warning sign for all who believe in liberal democracy," Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, wrote in a post-election statement.
In Europe and the United States alike, those of us who believe in the democratic experiment are struggling with how to protect minorities without alienating the white working class, and how to continue to reap the benefits of globalization while mitigating its negative effects. Despite some Americans' halfhearted promises to move to Canada or Europe, it's becoming clearer every day that the thorny problems assailing our country are not easy to escape. The political parties have different names, the stigmatized immigrants have different nationalities, and the tone of the debate may differ. But these challenges are everywhere.
While it provides some immediate comfort to commiserate with like-minded people abroad, it's actually quite frightening that every European I've met has instantly (and correctly) assumed that I did not vote for Trump. There is such a profound economic and cultural divide that a college-educated woman from California — one who has the means to spend time overseas — doesn't need to declare her sympathies; demographics are enough to communicate that I'm likely not a supporter of this ascendant strain of white-nationalist populism.
An "us versus them" attitude still prevails, but there has been a shift in who's included in each category.
Ann Friedman is a contributing writer to Opinion. She lives in Los Angeles.
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