In a parallel universe I never left NYC. MR and I waited the nine months and paid all the fees and the lawyer and decided we would be apart for the first 9 months of our marriage to settle there, even if it meant being apart
Sometimes I envy this me.
Not often, because if we had chosen to be apart, we wouldn’t have Feliciraptor, and she is worth giving up a country for. But when I think about the mess that is the 2016 Presidential election, I miss being in America.
One of the things no one tells you about being an expat is that you automatically become an ambassador for your country. And, man, is it hard to represent the United States sometimes, because isolated on their continent, Americans have no clue how they’re coming across to the rest of the world. And newsflash–it ain’t good.
It was tough traveling abroad during the Dubya years. He was not popular around the world, and the war he started in Iraq was even less popular. In comparison with now, however, those were much simpler times. I had to do a bit of defending against ridiculous conspiracy theories like Bush masterminded 9/11 (wtf?), but for the most part, all I had to say when I travelled to England was ‘*I* didn’t vote for him. I pretty much disagree with every word that comes out of his mouth’ and people understood. After all, a lot of them disagreed vehemently with Thatcher, and they subsequently drummed Blair out of office, so it wasn’t a huge stretch.
Then we elected Obama, and while I routinely faced questions about whether every American owns a gun (answer: no), things were overall better. The world likes Obama. I like Obama. The gun issue was the biggest thing I had to speak to during that time, but it most people seemed to understand that it wasn’t the whole sum of the US, although Brits do think Americans are *nuts* for refusing to even examine firearms legislation.
But now things have gone crazy because Trump stands an honest chance of becoming President, and he is an insane fascist. There is nothing that makes this man a viable candidate for President. First and foremost, he clearly only wants to represent white men. He reacts to insults like a child, or worse, threatens acts of free speech with violence. This flagrant disregard for the first amendment is truly alarming, because the Constitution is one of the things that makes America exceptional. Not only that, he is a straight up fascist. His slogan, ‘Make American great again’ sums that up. Make America great–how? What does a ‘great’ America consist of? He has no real concrete ideas about this, just insults he hurts at minority groups, religions, and other nations. Furthermore, it implies that America is in a state of complete ruin–not so. It is rare to find any nation in a state of complete ruin. Alongside this is the word ‘again’, as though America should turn back the clock to some unspecified point in the past. Going back is never a good idea. The future lies ahead. And moreover, the whole statement implies an entitlement to greatness which is probably the most obnoxious thing about America. No nation is the greatest nation by default, and the rabid patriotism this slogan presents is exactly what makes other nations roll their eyes in disgust at the naive ego of America.
This is the delicate line I have to walk. On the one hand, I do not just disagree with Trump–I think he could cause a world war if elected, and that’s not hyperbole. This man is dangerous. Yet when British people deplore the state of the elections, when they start telling people who to vote for on my Facebook feed, or when they ask whether I am going to give up on being American should Trump get elected, my hackles raise and I feel like saying ‘It’s not your election. Butt out. And also, stop insulting my country.’
I am not suggesting that America should listen to the rest of the world when deciding its next President. Part of the unique strength of Americans is that willingness to pioneer and go it alone, whether it be as a nation, as explorers in the west, or as immigrants starting a life all on their own. Nevertheless, the opinion of the world can be a useful reflection. Is this who we want to be as a nation? Do we want to be more like Franco’s Spain or Mussolini’s Italy than the America which has stood for more than 200 years? Because if we elect Trump, the nation will become Trump’s America, and frankly, that’s a nation I don’t know how to defend.
But I don’t want to have to surrender who I am, nor will I ever be able to. People always see me as American. Living in a quieter corner of England I’m also the only one. And I don’t know how to represent a country with such a dangerous leader.
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