foreigners and US politics

FT columnist Simon Kuper explains what many of us already knew: “the American election probably matters more to foreigners than it does to most Americans”.

The US inhabits a gated mansion in the safest neighbourhood in geopolitics. Even if the Red Army had rolled across western Europe, life in Alabama or Ohio would have been almost undisturbed. It’s telling that when Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, he had to invent a foreign bogeyman, the Mexican rapist. The US is immune to the world in a way that British Brexiters can only fantasise about. This means that the American election probably matters more to foreigners than it does to most Americans. The US president has the power to protect the rest of the world, mess us up or simply ignore us.

Simon Kuper, “America’s elections — or the world’s?“, Financial Times, 27 October 2016 (metered paywall).

Mr Kuper’s point is especially applicable to Canada. Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919–2000) famously said, during a 1969 visit to Washington, DC: “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

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