It’s often said the president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world.
And it’s a claim that’s easy to argue given the clout, both economic and military, that the United States wields around the globe.
While opinions about the U.S.—or more precisely about its government’s decisions—may have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, there’s no denying the impact that country still has in places far removed from the land contained within its borders.
That’s why the selection of the next U.S. president is garnering so much attention in so many other countries.
Oh, and it helps that the leading contender for the Republican Party’s nomination is an attention-seeking, self-serving businessman turned reality television star who, based on what he has said so far, thinks Mexicans are rapists, would ban Muslims from entering the United States, wants to build a wall across the U.S. border with Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out, has a problem disavowing support from America’s most racist organization, the Klu Klux Klan, insults women and anyone else who disagrees with him, likes to stir up crowds of his supported by getting them to do what appears to be a modern-day take on the Nazi salute while pledging allegiance to him and continuously one-ups himself when it comes to obnoxiousness.
But while many in other countries are left scratching their heads in bewilderment at his popularity, a majority of Americans who consider themselves Republican supporters are lapping it up. They think Donald Trump is a breath of fresh air in U.S. politics, not the odoriferous, racist, misogynistic, bigoted loudmouth his comments make him appear to be.
If his potential election as president did not have such an international impact, Trump’s run for the White House would the funniest reality show on television. Archie Bunker in an expensive suit.
But, as he likes to remind people at most every turn, he is self-funding his campaign so he’s not answerable to anyone. He says what he wants, acts like he wants and behaves more like a man vying to be the insulter-in chief than the commander-in-chief.
And a horrified world looks on.
That’s because, while Americans may elect him, those of us who don’t live in the U.S. will have to deal with his version of America for four, or possibly eight years if he wins the U.S. presidency.
There’s no denying The Donald, the self-described king of the art of the deal, has tapped into something in the psyche of many American voters. In the last few weeks so much has come out about him that would have sunk lesser presidential campaigns—such as his business dealings, his behaviour, his comments, the lawsuits over his failed university. But none of it seems to have dented his popularity with his growing band of Trumpeteers, a fiercely loyal group of followers.
As Trump moves closer to the Republican nomination, the world is watching in the same way many us look at a train wreck. They know it’s wrong, they just can’t look away.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Kelowna Capital News.