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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Donald Trump - A View from Abroad

"But what I do argue is that recognizing them frankly for what they are would instantly and automatically dissipate the indignation caused by their present abominations, and that the disappearance of this indignation would promote the public contentment and happiness. Under my scheme there would be no more false assumptions and no more false hopes, and hence no more painful surprises, no more bitter resentment of fraud, no more despair.

Politicians, in so far as they remained necessary, would be kept at work - but not with any insane notion that they were archangels."

H.L. Mencken essay on Being an American

There are these moments in every migration journey when an American expatriate looks at her country of origin from abroad and has this queer feeling that she no longer recognizes the place. Detached from the taken-for-grantedness of the American life and swimming in very different cultural and political waters, many things in the homeland now strike her as bizarre, even frightening.

Bizarre is exactly the word I would use describe the Donald Trump campaign.  In some ways it's pure entertainment.  Trump is genuinely funny and so off the wall that people all around the world are mesmerized by his antics. 

If you don't care much for politicians his humiliation of the Republican establishment (and his potential for pulling the same trick on the Democrat candidate) will make you cackle with glee. About time someone pulled back the veneer of respectability and highmindness and revealed the US presidential race for what it is: a dance of hypocrites and liars.  The tragedy of every election is that people have such hope that this time things will be different and Something Will be Done.  These hopes are almost inevitably dashed when the candidate takes office and goes about the messy business of actually running the country.   

That said, is Trump the Republican candidate good or bad for Americans abroad?  On the balance, putting aside my amusement and looking at it very coldly, I think it's bad for us.  I speak only for myself but the two things I really care about in this election are:  FATCA/CBT and US foreign policy.  Diaspora, not national issues.  My take, for example, on a hot domestic topic like immigration comes from my experience as an American emigrant. Frankly, I don't see what the fuss is about back in the Old Country.  And having to listen for years to the anti-immigrant rhetoric in my host country (France),  these days I really don't have much patience for it anywhere.

Concerning Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and citizenship-based taxation, I do not see a statement by Trump anywhere about where he stands on FATCA repeal or mitigation, or what he thinks about moving to a residence-based tax system.   The Republican party establishment has made efforts to address the concerns of Americans abroad.  There is a lawsuit (FATCA Legal Action) and calls to repeal the law by Republican lawmakers.  All things that I want to hear in 2016.  But Trump as candidate threatens to undo all that good work because he's running against the establishment, the very people who are ostensibly on our side.

As for foreign policy, as an American abroad I remember what it was like to have a US president who was viewed with contempt internationally and considered to be a blustering incompetent fool. American homelanders can dismiss this with a sniff and a refusal to watch or read the international media.  However, when you are living outside the US it is an extremely unpleasant experience that one can't escape so easily - not when these things are being discussed at work, at the local bar, or at home over dinner.  That the nationals in the host country dislike your president is one thing, that they think he is a figure of fun and not to be taken seriously is another.  Trump is already all of those things and he hasn't even been nominated, yet. 

The wonderful thing about Trump is that he reveals the farce that is the US presidential race, and invites us to see it as a comedy.  On some level we are all enjoying the show.  However, the fun ends when one realizes that supporting him is really not in one's best interests.  That is the conclusion I've come to:  I think Trump would be disaster for me and my fellow Americans abroad and it frightens me to think that he might have a chance.  

As for the homelanders, I don't think he's good for them either.  His supporters are making the same mistake that Mencken wrote about in 1922;  they confuse him with an archangel, and they are making false assumptions and raising false hopes. Trump is now a politician which means that one day he will inevitably disappoint even the most ardent of his supporters. 

No, homelanders, Mexico won't pay for the wall, 


Anonymous said...

Hi Victoria - Good post but I mostly disagree with you as another expat.

Especially with the migrant crisis in Europe, one either understands what the globalist elites are trying to do, ideologically, or one does not understand. Nobody can understand globalism and really be for it if one understands it means a small elite group will ultimately rule the world when all the regime changes are completed and there are no longer any homogenously white countries that cannot be controlled via identity (racial) politics.

Trump wants to end the foolish new cold war with Russia and stop regime changes. How can you call that a bumbling fool Europeans would revile? Millions of Europeans have been appalled at the way globalists want war and sanctions with Russia, which brings Europe down and props up the dollar. Sure, the globalists can pull the puppet strings of many European leftists who would say "Yes Trump is a racist like you said oh TV moderator masters". But let's face it, that is nothing new as EU leftists are always OK with being ruled by globalist elites. These lemmings are very good at recognizing when you have compliant puppets like Merkel or Cameron in office as opposed to someone like Putin or Trump or Berlusconi who seem not to be with the globalist program at all.

Now FATCA is an important issue but it was the Bushies who made that happen and Trump wants to clean house of the Bushie type. I don't see why you think Trump would stop these establishment types from actually doing what you voted them to do. They are failing to actually vote away the law because they've been told to bamboozle us expats.

Consider coming over to the dark side.

bubblebustin said...

"Death [renunciation] solves all problems - no man [citizen], no problem."

The Trump staffer who recently told an American expat to "just renounce" their US citizenship surely doesn't know (nor probably care) that his mean-spirited attitude puts them in league with the mass murderer Joseph Stalin.

From a recent article in Rolling Stone:

"The problem, of course, is that Trump is crazy. He's like every other corporate tyrant in that his solution to most things follows the logic of Stalin: no person, no problem. You're fired! Except as president he'd have other people-removing options, all of which he likes: torture, mass deportations, the banning of 23 percent of the Earth's population from entering the United States, etc."

Read more:

Should that Trump staffer's attitude reflect Trump's, and Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone be correct about Trump's mental state, don't expect any sympathy from a Trump administration - only more suggestions to renounce US citizenship.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Anonymous, Thank you for disagreeing. I will think about it and we'll see how the campaigns progress. What I hear you saying is that a vote for Trump is a protest vote. What I don't understand is what Trump wants to do if he becomes president. Telling Mexico to pay for a wall is certainly appealing to some Americans but... Honestly? Do we really think that's going to happen? I don't want to feel good. I want THE issues I care about adressed. This election I am focused on the two things I mentioned. Tell me how Trump will fix FATCA/CBT and conduct his foreign policy in a way that commands respect (note that I do not confuse respect with liking - a head of state does not need to be universally loved. But he or she does need to be listened to to be effective.)

@bubblebustin: I had not heard the "just renounce" story. Where does that come from?

Anonymous said...

Hi Victoria.
Alternative views:

bubblebustin said...

Victoria, please check you FB PM's for one from me :-)

no fatca said...

Dear Mrs. Obama, Why I Gave Up My U.S. Citizenship....

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous "Consider coming over to the dark side". Good post. You overlooked the important voices of Hungary's Viktor Orbán and other members of the increasingly vocal Visegrád Group of central European states. The fact that they are coming under increasingly violent, intolerant and anti-democratic attack by Brussel-o-crats and EU elites suggests their anti-globalist and anti-EU migrant messages are making a mark. The current EU migrant crisis is the most serious challenge to face the EU project in 64 years. Trump's anti-establishment protest voters find a clear echo in the rising Right in several EU countries, among them France. (@FrenchNewsonlin)

Leslie in Oregon said...

Victoria, for more grist for the mill, take a look at John Oliver's brilliant takedown of Donald Drumpf (aka Trump) on his commentary show "Last Week Tonight" aired on HBO last Sunday evening (and be ready to chortle/cringe):

(Sorry, I guess you'll have to cut and paste that address into your browser.)

Tim said...

I will add that I don't run into a lot of French nationals in the US on a daily basis but if I did I would make fun of the current French president and some of his former ministers like Finance Man Moscovici and that other tax evading plastic surgeon budget guy who now lives out of his car in Paris. Plus there is that "Whore of the Republic" lady Charlene Deziers Jonquire back from the Mitterand era who is now a game show host in France.

I will add at this late date Hollande is still redeemable if he does a couple of things which I will mention on another post.

Ellis said...

99% of politicians are crooks. They make laws just to stay in power.

Tim said...

One thing to keep in mind too is people in France know more about American politicians than Americans know about French politicians. One notable and distinctly not humoredly exception though if you are French is an American filmmaker a few years back did a documentary released in the US about French businessman/politico Bernard Tapie(Whom Arun Kapril has compared as the French Donald Trump).

I will note that Arun has never reviewed "Who is Bernard Tapie." I suspect that Arun being French probably doesn't want his American readers to know about this fairly unsavory Frenchman.

Anonymous said...

Former Canadian Prime Minister says he could run against Trump - a joke, but he says that his father was "born and lived his first 10 years in New Hampshire".


Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien discusses his American-born father and @realDonaldTrump. "

Is this former Prime Minister of Canada a 'taxable US citizen then?

Anonymous said...
full address of Chretien to the CABC Canadian American Business Council. which he says his father was a director of for 50? years?

Note that;
"The CABC Advisory Board is chaired by the current Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. and is composed of all former Ambassadors to Canada and the U.S., as well as former Congressman John LaFalce, former Senator Jack Austin, P.C., Q.C., and former Minister Barbara McDougall, P.C., O.C."

No mention of FATCA as an important 'export' to Canada! The US export we couldn't refuse - under threat of significant economic sanction.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

It is a strange thing to observe an American election in which the democrats of the 1960s seem to have become the republicans of the 1960s and vise versa. I suppose most of the shrieking youth of today are too young to have watched "Once Upon a Time in Arkansas" when it was broadcast on PBS Frontline about 20 years ago. At that time there were only a dozen or so dead bodies in the Clinton wake. The total is said to be over a hundred now; former associates and people who knew too much. Foreigners shake their heads at the prospect of a country up to it's nose in debt, with a shrinking industrial base still trying to play global hegemon with 385(?) military bases scattered all over the world. The final irony is that is is the democrat candidate who is the neocon's choice, the interventionist seeking confrontation and a new cold war! Trump is brash and sometimes crude, but does that make criminality and foreign adventurism preferable? Time Americans woke up and took a good look at what is going on in their country and why. Turn off the football and the Seinfeld and start reading. Maybe start with your Constitution, while you've still got one, sort of. Best of luck my friends, most sincerely.

Jon said...
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