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What the World Is Saying About Us

Donald Trump on the cover of The Economist
Donald Trump on the cover of The Economist

The 2016 presidential race will soon be fodder for historians, pundits and poly-sci classes -- destined to be studied for years to come because of the candidates and what lasting impact their campaigns may have on the country. But while that final verdict may be a long way off, this election is already having an effect on our global image.

A check of the website WatchingAmerica shows some disturbing views reflected in headlines around the world. The site tracks opinion of the U.S. in foreign language news outlets, and posts English versions of the articles translated by its own staff.

LaJornado in Mexico has an opinion piece titled “The United States: Democracy in Distress.” The article was written before the third and final presidential debate, but calls the first two Clinton/Trump face-offs "a chilling demonstration of the lack of substance, frivolity and even vulgarity that have come to characterize our northern neighbor’s political system. With hardly a mention of their proposals for governing the nation…"

Likewise an article in Japan’s Nikkei cautions that “The U.S. Presidential Candidates Should Not Forget Their Responsibility to the World.” It reminds Trump and Clinton that the leader of the free world has to keep in mind “…the responsibility they hold toward the stability and prosperity of the world.”

Donald Trump’s claims of media bias were picked up by Lebanon’s press. Here's a quote from an article in Al-Khaleej titled “Donald Trump as President,”  "The plan to incite fear of Trump, which can be called “Trump Phobia,” began with a powerful outburst under the slogan “the fear of a Trump Presidency” as a lucrative election paper. Emerging in the wake of this slogan a media campaign spread inside and outside of the United States, aimed at vilifying Trump, challenging (beyond doubt) his eligibility to take over responsibility for the nuclear button."

A Portuguese-language publication from the island nation Cape Verde, Expresso das Ilhas, says truth has taken a big hit in this election. The writer, Jose Almada Dias, acknowledges that politicians everywhere tell lies, but notes that “Machiavelli would have a lot to learn from many public figures in the United States.”

Germany's media outlet Spiegel's coverage of the election includes an essay "A Candidate Unhinged: Trump Targets the Essence of America."

"To be American means to believe in the Constitution: This narrative, despite its obvious flaws, has kept the country together over the centuries. Now, though, Donald Trump is presenting an altogether different identity for the United States. And the consequences are potentially horrific."

But the whole world isn't judging us badly. One Canadian firm is reassuring us  by calling for a national "Tell America It's Great" campaign. In case you haven't seen it, here's a short snippet of the longer video posted on YouTube:

By the way, our colleagues at Mosaic will be looking at how the world is watching the US elections from the perspective of international broadcasters & reporters. That special program airs Tues., Nov. 1 at 8:30 p.m. PT and Fri., Nov. 4 at 8:30 p.m. PT on KCET and Link TV as well as online.

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