First thoughts on the election of Donald Trump

As has become customary on election nights, I have been twittering my initial thoughts all night. Here is a selection of those tweets and some additional comments.

  1. Saddest picture of this election so far: people in line staring at their phones instead of reading a book, let alone talking to each other. (Which may explain something.)
  2. I can’t remember any US election in which the candidate whom I didn’t wish to win was unacceptable. In all previous elections, whether it would have been Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, John McCain (ok, Sarah Palin was scary), John Kerry, George W Bush (he seems like an intellectual compared with Donald Trump), Al Gore, Bob Dole, Bill Clinton or heck, even Ross Perot, none of them would have posed a threat as Donald Trump does.
  3. Donald Trump: “The lines outside polling stations were much shorter when women weren’t allowed to vote.”
  4. Donald Trump doesn’t even trust his wife with her vote. trump-vote-wife
  5. Queen Elizabeth II, Angela Merkel and Golda Meir will get together tonight to laugh about all the talk of “shattering the glass ceiling”. – Seriously, sometimes it’s weird when Americans talk about things happening in their country for the first time as if they never happened anywhere else in the world. In a country with 50% women, it’s just a matter of time, one would think.
  6. It’s only been a mere 100 years since women got the right to vote, so be a little patient with it showing effects in higher offices.
  7. sharro-tweet-bbc
  8. I am watching the election on CNN en Español because “Virginia Occidental” sounds more exotic than West Virginia.
  9. How many people will die of a heart attack this election night? (I myself only smoked too many cigars.)
  10. Abraham Lincoln while following the results: “Maybe we should have let the Confederacy go.”
  11. The first black president will be followed by a president endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. America really is the place of diversity.
  12. And worse: We go from one of the most intellectually impressive presidents to one who can’t form whole sentences.
  13. Donald Trump: “I can be President and have my own TV network.”
  14. The question that plagues me: How do you govern a country against 50% of the population?
  15. Two days ago, I spent a night at Lima airport talking to a Peruvian gentleman about globalization, journalism, politics. He asked me to explain the rise of fascism in Germany in the 1930s, which I did as well as I could in the brevity of time. I should have said: “Just wait a few days and you’ll see how it works.”
  16. Like after the Brexit vote, the Trump victory leads to an increase in visitors interested in my articles about obtaining German citizenship. But more Americans want to move to Canada, it seems. The website of the Canadian immigration authority crashed.
  17. Overheard from an American-Iranian couple: “Honey, it’s OK, we have Iranian passports.”
  18. People ask “why do you care, you are not American?” I generally care about politics, democracy, civility. And with Donald Trump’s remarks on foreign policy, I worry about NATO, I worry about Ukraine, I worry about the Baltics.
  19. This could be a great opportunity for Europe to get its act together and to make this century the European century. But I see no reason for optimism on that side of the Atlantic either. On the contrary, populists and xenophobes in Europe will feel emboldened and make any unified European response much harder.
  20. A good day for global warming.
  21. This election, both the campaign and the result, will make it harder to defend democracy when talking to authoritarians.
  22. Actually, after defending democracy for 41 years, I am so frustrated that I will take a break from it. Only a short one, though, maybe for a few days.
  23. But it does make me think that some idiot who believes that Obama was born in Kenya, that the Jews control the world and that the UN are using Zika to infiltrate the US has the same vote as someone who studies, reads and thinks reasonably.
  24. As Trump said: “I love the poorly educated.” Don’t expect him to invest in education.
  25. It’s not for lack of journalism that the voters are uninformed. Except for the first few months, when Trump was dismissed as a clown and not properly checked, there has been excellent reporting about Donald Trump and his shady businesses. But people aren’t interested in it.
  26. It really is like Donald Trump said: “I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and I wouldn’t lose any votes.” Voters, you are so stupid that you even amaze the man you vote for.
  27. Theodore Roosevelt: “A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”
  28. Remember the surge in racist attacks after Brexit? How historically fitting that the same might happen on 9 November. (Unfortunately, this prediction held true so far.)
  29. The extra NATO battalion for the Baltics might come too late.
  30. People worry about Roe v Wade. I am worried about Korematsu v United States.
  31. Angela Merkel now really is the leader of the free world. Which is reassuring. I have never voted for her (yes, I am German), but I think I owe it to the world to re-elect her next year. Someone has to mitigate all the damage caused by President Trump.
  32. Edward Snowden was right not to return home.
  33. What message does it send to women to elect someone who boasted of committing sexual assault? I am worrying about NATO and free trade, but maybe this is the single biggest damage done by this election.
  34. East Germany also claimed its wall was to keep foreigners out.
  35. No, dear journalists, my first question is not why the polls were wrong. My question is why half the country votes for a sexist, racist fascist.
  36. Soon, there will be American mail-order brides.
  37. Does this mean Mike Pence is factually President?
  38. history-of-us-presidents
  39. This was like Lisa Simpson losing to Homer Simpson.
  40. Dear USA, thank you for liberating us from fascism! But you wouldn’t have needed to keep it in the basement for it to pop up now.
  41. Jeb Bush: “Maybe I should have tried harder.”
  42. All the work done by President Obama in 8 years will be undone. Lesson: Politics is not worth it. (Michelle Obama: “I told you so.”)
  43. Particularly when you see that discussions don’t change anything, reporting doesn’t change anything, writing doesn’t change anything, the consequence for me is to go back to the ivory tower and study sociology or literature. As an intellectual, I am already in a tiny, irrelevant minority anyway.
  44. America proves that it is still the open country where a poor Slovenian immigrant can become First Lady.
  45. Is Donald Trump’s speech copied from President Obama?
  46. Trump can’t identify his own siblings on stage.
  47. “What I did in business I want to do to our country,” says man with at least four bankruptcies and hundreds of lawsuits against him.
  48. People are afraid of foreigners, Latinos, Muslims, gays, feminists and black people, but in reality it’s white Christian voters who destroy the country.
  49. Trump’s victory is welcomed by both the Ku Klux Klan and by ISIS.
  50. Estonian President calls Donald Trump to congratulate on election. Donald Trump: “Goodbye, Estonia.”
  51. No, when there is a president-elect who called for torture and for racial profiling, I do not want to hear “we wish him well” and “we’ll work with him”.
  52. People say “Don’t worry. Campaigning is one thing, being in office another.” But then what’s the point of campaigning? Of course Trump won’t build walls around the country and deport every undocumented immigrant. But the problem is that a large part of the population believed it, wants to believe it and wants it to happen. Any my main problem with Donald Trump are not specific policy ideas. The character and intellectual flaws are much more disconcerting.
  53. The authors of all the “it won’t be so bad” op-eds don’t realize how much damage has already been done before Donald Trump assumes the office.
  54. david-frum
  55. With unemployment below 5%, the economy does not explain Trump’s 47% share of the vote.
  56. To connoisseurs of the Blues Brothers, the existence of right-wing parties in the US comes as no surprise.
  57. European Union to launch “Radio Free Europe”-like radio to inform people in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
  58. I am curious to read the chapter in Obama’s autobiography about the transition to Trump.
  59. Trump is a business man. He will try to export his political model. Expect him to open franchise parties in other countries. – Update: I may be right on this one. Breitbart is already expanding to Germany and France.
  60. Putin to Trump: “Don’t worry about the protests. I know how to handle those. I can send my men. In neutral uniforms, even.”
  61. Imagine McCarthy + belief in conspiracy theories + control over NSA. (If you thought this tweet was over the top, a few days later you can read about Newt Gingrich’s plan for a new Committee on Anti-American Activities.)
  62. With all the “renegotiating” of treaties, we give Russia an idea about the Alaska Purchase.
  63. People call me “elitist” because I think I am smarter than most people who ain’t never read no book and who ain’t never seen no university from inside, but the real problem are people who believe they are better than others because of their race, their gender or the church they attend.
  64. Conservatives say that liberals live in a “bubble”. But the real bubble is the time capsule of the 1950s that many people either live in or long to have back, where the husband is the breadwinner, everybody important is white and by jolly there ain’t no gays, no Muslims and for sure no atheists, thank God. In 2016, people who ain’t never traveled no more than 20 miles to the next county fair accuse Americans who work and study in other states, who go out to see the world, who speak another language of living in a “bubble”. Ya’ll got this mighty backwards, folks.
  65. If you think this election is bad for you, think about the inmates of Guantanamo.
  66. The United States are politically and socially so divided that we should consider a two-state solution.
  67. George W Bush: “You keep saying how you’ll miss Barack Obama. But Donald Trump will be so bad, you will miss even me.”

Good night and good luck.


(Hier geht es zur deutschen Fassung dieser Einschätzungen.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
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11 Responses to First thoughts on the election of Donald Trump

  1. Thank you, Andreas, for your eye-opener! I just hope that Donald Trump will choose people who can really teach him the essential things and that he will accept their opinions. Your point 26 really gave me goose pimples!! Americans seem to be desperate for a big change.

    • In every election, people say they want “change”. Without saying what kind of change, this is empty rhetoric. If I set my house on fire, I will also have change.

    • To me it seems that any change is good enough for them! Your point 26 shows it.In any case the middle class has lost much of the economic prosperity due to the crash in 2008 and due to globalisation many jobs, especially for non qualified people, were lost. Ok, you know this already!! According to me, more and not less should be done in order to requalify their people. I don’t know whether the president elect can be convinced of this. But I wonder, if the Europeans shouldn’t try to defend their borders on their own and, if we set our house on fire, it will be a trrible lesson, which later generation will forget anyway! Have a good day in Peru.

  2. olaf says:

    Is there a source for #67? Or is it just one of your funny stuff to handle it like a real quote, because you are so much better than this Trump-Thing and his Voter-Things?

    • For now that quote is made up. But I am sure George W Bush will be thinking that sooner or later. In fact, I think all previous 44 presidents will henceforth shine in comparison.

    • Sridhar Chigurupati says:

      Apparently, Trump didn’t do his assigned reading of the policy and procedures for transition. More evidence he’s illiterate.

    • At a lower level of politics, I have often seen businesspeople be totally surprised and get frustrated once they enter politics because it doesn’t work like a business, particularly not a privately held business.
      I am afraid Trump will be in way over his head. I also think that Mike Pence will be the busiest Vice President since Dick Cheney.

  3. Pingback: Looking at an American nightmare | From guestwriters

  4. Sridhar Chigurupati says:

    Andreas, I’d be lmfao if it wasn’t so tragic. On the subject of how fascism starts, is demonization of the press one of the early steps? Because that began during the campaign. Regarding Americans relocating, Canada probably had more inquiries not only because of proximity, but language barrier. Learning German would be too much work for the average American. And no. 64 is what it’s all about. Many people are longing for the “good old days” when they could just finish high school, start working, and be “set” for life. Obviously, those days are gone. Who wants to be a coal miner, dead of debilitating lung disease at 55? Or an auto plant worker who has to retire at 60 because of too many physical ailments? These people should be able to transition to jobs in wind or solar energy, but it will take a little effort.

    Also, what do you think about the sports world: it’s supposed to be an escape, but now many players and coaches are “chiming in.” I think Americans’ reluctance to talk about politics in social circles is a major contributor to the current predicament.

    • 1) The question about demonization of the media is a complicated one, worthy of a PhD thesis, but here are some initial thoughts: Both populism and fascism depend on an us-versus-them narrative, they need an internal or external enemy who is to be blamed for all evil, for otherwise they would need to get into the depths of macroeconomic policy, which they don’t want. This means that differing opinions and their sources need to be discredited.
      This is different from a normal political discourse. I guess it’s normal that some people prefer the Wall Street Journal and the Economist, while others prefer Newsweek and the New York Times. But it didn’t use to be that you absolutely disbelieved any other media. People used to have a preference for one (also based on their political opinion), but the other paper wasn’t wrong or evil, it was just not your favorite.
      Nowadays, it seems that whole newspapers are getting completely discredited per se (e.g. the NYT by Donald Trump, but we also see this in Germany where right-wing parties call most traditional newspapers “Lügenpresse”, “the lying press”). I don’t know exactly when this began to happen, but it seems that nowadays, “mainstream media” is used as an insult. I don’t know why. If someone is a mainstream doctor, engineer, chef or teacher, I guess it would mean that they had the standard education and training for their job. Why would that be bad in the case of journalists?

      2) Good pint on the language barrier, although I should point out that it’s absolutely possible to live in Germany with speaking English only. Of course it’s not ideal, but you won’t have any problem getting around.

      3) I agree with you on the “good old days”. People seem to have a tendency to glorify the past and gloss over the negative sides. I guess we all do that in our personal lives. Many years after high school or college, we remember the fun parts, the freedom, the adventures, but not the stress and anxiety. And people who have been to the military usually remember it much more fondly than they would have portrayed while they were at boot camp.
      Many people also seem to confuse their personal lives with that of the nation. I see this a lot in Germany where some elderly people long back to the time when Germany was divided (pre-1989) and it’s often just reminiscing about their youth when they were still vigorous and attractive. But they also would have lost their hair and teeth if they had continued to live in a communist country.

      4) I personally am very skeptical of team sports, to be honest. I am probably over-interpreting this, but as an anti-fascist I always feel at unease when I see two groups with different flags and uniforms and anthems fighting each other. It fosters group identity at the expense of both unity and individualism. And too many people treat politics as sports, with allegiance to their team regardless of who’s on it (“I don’t like Donald Trump, but I have always voted Republican”).

      5) I have never understood it when people recommend not to talk about politics. I find it both interesting and important. How can you have a functioning democracy (beyond casting the bi-annual vote) without discussion and debate? I would think that discussing these issues more would also serve as a check on the most ludicrous opinions. But that only works if people are willing to speak their mind. This is a universal problem, it seems. I am sometimes in circles where someone says something completely stupid (like a crazy conspiracy theory) or something racist. Although I can see that many others are at unease, I am almost always the only one to speak up immediately. That probably explains why I don’t get invited to parties and family get-togethers anymore and have to write a blog instead.

  5. Pingback: Erste Gedanken zur Wahl von Donald Trump | Der reisende Reporter

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