Expats React To President-Elect Trump



We are still reeling from the surreal horror show of this election and its aftermath. As expats, we’re in the peculiar position of being far enough away that we’re not immediately, physically affected by what’s happening—but we’re also far away from loved ones who are. It’s maddening. If you’re feeling as crappy as we are, here are 5 concrete things you can do—because doing something is better than drinking and crying yourself to sleep every night (oh, just us?)

We asked other expats, not only Americans, how they were feeling and here’s what they said.

“I am completely crestfallen. My heart breaks for Hillary and the promise of a better life for our children and all that’s been lost and will be lost. Trump’s candidacy and his ascendancy into the most powerful position on earth is an outrage, not merely because half the voters voted that way but for the dubious means he got there—Russia! FBI! Lies! The negative effects of his presidency will be immediate and long-lasting. I make no distinction between him being a racist, xenophone, homophobe and misogynist and the people who voted for him, for the net result is the same. I worry for the end of decency, the rise in hate, and the untold literal damage that will be done to the planet under his watch—unforgivable and irreversible. Americans aren’t merely ruining it for themselves, they’re ruining it for entire the world.”
– Jill Hamilton-Brice, American expat in France

“I’ve been an expat for a little over a decade and I was DEVASTATED when Trump was elected. The worst part for me is I’m from Mississippi and it’s a red state. Many of my family and friends are proud Trump supporters and I find myself asking, ‘Well, what makes me so different from them? Do they just not have hearts? Or have they always been so racist and I never noticed it before?’ As an expat, I often feel like a sort of ambassador for America. Now I hope people don’t pick up on my (very clearly) American accent when I’m speaking French, so I don’t need to answer any questions. I’m a military brat and have always been proud to be an American. Now, I’m so ashamed that the country I loved has gone and broken my heart.”
– Tiffany Dubar, American expat in France

“Like the majority of Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton last week, my faith in American pluralism and Nate Silver’s statistical models has been utterly squashed by Donald Trump’s small, pussy-grabbing hands. In the plainest possible terms, the man represents the worst America has to offer. He is a greedy, narcissistic, chauvinist xenophobe and bigot whose petulance and idiocy can be plainly viewed on Twitter. The fact that he is the American president elect makes me ashamed to be an American, and after five days of trying to digest the reality of a Trump presidency, I have come to the only logical conclusion: I no longer know what it means to ‘be American.'”
– Samuél Lopez-Barrantes, American expat in France

“I’m not surprised about the results at all. The economic recovery, for the vast majority of people, has been a complete sham as inequalities have furthered even more. It was a big mistake of the Democratic party to push a candidate who, while nominally a public servant, earned more in a speech to Goldman Sachs than the vast majority of households in a year. Time and again, whether with the UK General Election or Brexit, and especially the GOP Primary, we’ve seen that populism wins. I think the vast majority of people are fed up with stagnating wages, crappy jobs, and not being able to afford to go to college without getting into massive debt. As Ivy-educated, well-traveled people, we’ve become completely blind to these problems. It’s easy to dismiss all the Trump voters as racist troglodytes, but a lot of these people voted for Obama twice. Their situation has gotten worse, their low-paying jobs are paying even less, and it’s getting to the point where someone with a regular blue collar job can’t afford to buy a house. So of course the demagogue who comes up with outlandish but reassuring statements will be listened to. And now things are going to get worse, because these low information voters are even further down the rabbit hole. I don’t want to trivialize the insane racism that’s going on right now—I firmly believe genuine racists have found themselves emboldened by Trump. I think the protests, while admirable, are too little too late.

I’m very pessimistic about the upcoming French election. Like previous years, I will probably vote for a third party candidate (I voted for Eva Joly last time) or for a centrist, but faced with a UMP/FN run-off, I might sit that one out. Overall I’m very pessimistic. I think things will only get worse.”
– Carine Hejazi, French expat in the UK

“I’ve been an expat for 4 years. I’m discouraged, but not surprised by the results. In the current climate, people are veering towards anti-establishment figures. The mainstream press champions stories that blame migration for all the problems with the economy, the job market and just about everything else besides. Racial tensions were running high even before the Brexit referendum earlier in the year and I fear the result there fueled people to vote for change. The worrying thing is there is now a racist, mysogynistic, narcissistic leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world—who has already declared his willingness to destroy anyone or anything that gets in his way. I’m not saying change isn’t needed but the mindset of Trump is terrifying and the impact will reach much further than America. It is impossible to dream that the next four years will not bring international death and destruction in a manner not seen in decades. I never thought I would see the day that I wished a Bush were in charge. To quote R.E.M., It’s the end of the world as we know it, only I don’t feel fine.”
– Linsey, English expat in France

“Whilst I may not agree with them, I believe this outcome reflects a significant number of the American people who do not feel they have benefitted enough from the policies of the last eight years, specifically, and 25 years more generally—namely, unbridled globalization, capital flows, immigration, and liberal media dominance of the American TV spectrum and airwaves. I do not believe the vast majority of the victors are more racist, xenophobic, misongynist, whatever label you want to apply, than the general population. These just distract from the fundamental issue of a significant number of people feeling they have been left behind.

Nor is this unique to America. You saw it in Great Britain, you see it in France. With regard to the election, this is democracy working, a cry from a substantial number of people who expressed themselves at the voting booth and by way of the ballot. This is the way it is supposed to work. Many people may not like the result, but that’s what democracy is—not always getting your way and respect for others’ decisions.”
– Pierre Kiecolt-Wahl, American expat in France

“I watched the election unfurl with growing unease and disgust. By morning I felt completely despondent and deflated. Also quite sad and drained. I’m not even American, but I think Trump is a pig and I have been following with interest. The next day, I was beside myself with anger. As I type this now I am still enraged because I am very scared of this new world order that I simply do not recognize. Everyone I know in my social circle here, at home, in the UK, in the US feels the same. I do not know any of these voters and their logic, such as it is, upsets me. I cannot vote in France because of my European nationality, so I am extremely frustrated and annoyed when despondent 30-something French say to me their vote doesn’t count, LePen is a sure thing, etc. This wave of feeling that a right-wing swing is now inevitable elsewhere—given Brexit and the United Hates of America— sickens me. We need to get up, get out on the street, encourage everyone to vote here. We need to understand the why, react, communicate, get our politicians to DO something about it and assuage fears, dampen the hatred and stop it from spreading. We need to learn from what’s happened and ensure it stops there. It’s terrifying. I have already started to do my bit, limited as it is. Every little bit helps. I am very, very angry.”
– Anonymous, Irish Expat in France

“I hail from Alabama and the Deep South in general. I’m not so much afraid of Trump but the cabinet he’s putting together and the carte blanche government that will take over. Growing up in the South I witnessed racism, but not as much as some might believe. My parents were not like that. I wasn’t taught to hate. Over my 20 years in France, I’ve seen the change in my home community which I think is a good example of what happened to the people who feel forgotten. My dad worked for a tire factory. It was a great job back then. He was unionized, we had good health insurance (eyes AND braces!) and he worked hard, pulling double shifts, coming home greasy and weary. Fast forward fifteen years. The same factory, now my brothers worked there, swing shifts and bad insurance if they were lucky to get it. The union was nearly dead. Still, a job to raise a family with, until it wasn’t. The same factory was bought by a French company during the recent recession. It was subsequently closed. Lots of jobs, good jobs, were suddenly gone from a small community. Maybe it’s globalization, maybe it’s Wall Street, maybe it’s progress… it doesn’t matter to the people who are hurting. Trump was maybe not the best answer, but he presented AN answer for them. These communities are still suffering. They’re fractured and hopeless.”
– Judi McConnell, American expat in France

I have been active as a Democrat Abroad since Obama’s election in 2008. So of course I jumped on board for 2016 and the DUMP TRUMP campaign. But the anti-Hillary thing was unlike anything! I was appalled. I spent Election night at another member’s house in the outskirts of Marseille because as of 4am, the Democrats Abroad were gathering to watch the results and have breakfast and celebrate… or so we thought. It was grim. It was grey and cold outside and we were dismal. I felt AWFUL. Couldn’t stomach anything. Nothing made me feel better. Our members were in tears, shock. I went to work and my colleagues were very nice and supportive. I had lunch with four women, three Americans, one who voted for the enemy! She ended up leaving the table because she couldn’t handle us being upset about her thinking! Now I’m trying to remain diplomatic and calm but then again, NO, I should remind people that this is wrong.”
– Susan, American expat in France

“Since the election results, I have felt the same shock and disbelief that I experienced when my father unexpectedly died, on 9/11, and when the Charlie Hebdo attacks occurred. Absolute loss, confusion, shock. Trump is not a ‘one-off’ or a new phenomenon. He followed the ‘Hitler Handbook.’ We have ignored the disgusting, rampant racism, misogyny and cruelty in our country, in the world. It is stronger than ever. I am very scared and want to do everything I can to educate people and stop it. Don’t know exactly what that is right now.”
Alisa Morov, American expat in France

“The result of this election has made me seriously question the following:
1. The electoral college. Does this voting system accurately reflect the best interests of the nation? America is not, and hasn’t been for a long time, a disparate collection of many states.
2. The damaging effects of bipartisanship. Many Republicans said that they would not vote for their own candidate, yet here we are.
3. The backlash against globalization. Slowing economies and growing inequality around the world. Brexit, Trump, next: Le Pen? Nothing is out of the question anymore.
4. The role of the media. How were the polls so wrong? In the midst of the email scandal and hateful, incendiary comments, did the press completely lose sight of what was actually happening? If Hilary had been elected, would they have been able to objectively cover her presidency? Or would she most likely be under intense scrutiny for her entire term?
5. Meritocracy, or lack thereof. Maybe we should stop teaching our kids this lesson. Better to face the harsh realities of the world with the truth in hand?
6. Racial tension in America. It is projected that in the coming decades, white Christians will no longer be the majority in the states. I wonder what elections will look like when minorities have become the majority?”
– Anonymous, American expat in France

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About Author

Maggie Kim is a writer, musician and the founder of LES LOLOS.


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