You’re from the USA? What’s the deal with Trump?
This past semester, while studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, I did what all study abroad students do: travel.
I left the States about one month after Donald Trump formally announced his candidacy for president and fully expected that his campaign would swiftly descend into oblivion. I was sure that strong, experienced candidates would emerge from within the party and the base would unite against the radical ideas that Trump thrives on.
Being abroad provided an obvious distance from U.S. politics. Time differences made it hard to watch the debates and I was no longer surrounded by conversations about policies and politics or by a media obsessed with the upcoming election. Nonetheless, I watched in disbelief as Trump made outrageous comments and derogatory remarks yet continued to soar in the polls.
Apparently, the world was watching with me. No matter where I went, I was bombarded with the same question over and over again: “Will Donald Trump be the next president of the United States?”
At the beginning, the question came as a joke. It was easy to brush off any concern. I would explain it was only a matter of time until his angry and over-the-top rhetoric would catch up to him and he would quickly be pushed out of the race. “Trump will be out before the primaries even begin,” I told my Australian friends, certain that Republican voters would not back him.
As time went on, I realized this was not the case and voters were angrier with the government than I’d realized. Trump continued to say disparaging things about Muslims, Mexicans, women and a reporter with a disability, yet somehow still manage to climb in the polls.
The question continued to follow me as I met people of all nationalities while traveling to New Zealand, Singapore, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. Though the question remained the same, my answer had evolved from dismissive to frustrated. “I promise you that Donald Trump will not be the next president of America,” I told friends, strangers and tour guides alike.
I was embarrassed and angry that it seemed increasingly likely he would be the face of my party, but I knew by talking to Republicans and Democrats alike he would not be the leader of the United States.
If Trump does become the GOP nominee, the Republican Party will face criticism not only from the Democrats, but also from the global community. It is true that many in the party have fought to keep Trump from becoming the nominee, but the party is fractured. College Republicans like myself, prominent political operatives like Peter Wehner and party faces like South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, seek to bring the party in a different direction.
The world is looking at us and all they are seeing is Donald Trump. When one of our closest allies is debating in parliament about whether to ban one of our presidential candidates, we must realize the negative impact Trump is having on our image as a nation. Not only is the global community watching and holding its breath, but I have promises to keep.
Maddy Bolger, from Alexandria, VA, is a junior studying Public Policy and Global Health at Duke.