Written by Carter Ivey ’16
The second I step out of my building to bask in the gloomy cloudiness of the London sky, the barrage of questions begins. Did you hear what he did? Can you believe it? How are you people so stupid? I put my head down, put on the old stiff British up-
per-lip, and grind through another day of existence in the Trumpian diaspora.
I came to London to continue my studies in international politics—to further my knowledge of the subject I love and to challenge my own beliefs through the interaction with a diverse cross-section of humanity. I wanted to watch an Eastern European argue with a German over the value of immigration, and I wanted to sit back in a
pub and listen to the Brits battle it out overBrexit. Yet, the second I open my mouth and my Yankee accent echoes across the room, the conversation immediately turns to one topic, and one topic only: The Donald. The same two immediate, and inevitable questions always: why did you people vote for him, and how do you feel about it? After countless exhaustive efforts to intellectualize an appropriate response, I was left not only more confused about my own beliefs, but, more importantly, I was simply embarrassed. So that’s what I started to tell my European friends. As a New Englander living abroad, as an American, I am embarrassed.
This response was the only one that seems to make sense not only to Europeans, but also to myself, and I’m well aware that my fellow compatriots in the Trumpian diaspora feel a great deal the same. We are embarrassed because our long-time allies are left feeling uncertain about the state of our relationships with them. We are embarrassed because we don’t know how to explain what an “alternative fact” is. We are embarrassed because we are, as Americans living abroad, cultural ambassadors tasked with publically psychoanalyzing the communal sanity of the United States. Yet, I have learned perhaps the most valuable lessons from my feelings of embarrassment, as only when we shine light on the darker areas of ourselves can we attain some semblance of understanding and, if we are lucky, progress. So thank you, President Trump, for embarrassing us Americans living abroad, because our embarrassment has demonstrated to us certain things that are of unprecedented value: that we really can do better than you; that our friends are worried because they know we can and have done better; and that European anxiety about the state of our country demonstrates the immeasurable value of the United States playing a measured, but most importantly, responsible role in the Western world.
When I talk to a European, they want to talk about Trump, not because of American exceptionalism but because of their understanding that decisions that are made in the United States have ramifications throughout the West. The decisions made in America affect the whole world. American identity is fundamentally intertwined with that of the rest of the world, and it’s high-time we start voting in a responsible manner that pays credence to our cosmopolitanism, and expect the same from our leaders.