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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Donald Trump's gift to America: a new ugly American

Donald Trump bases his slogan on the premise that America has fallen into a low status and reputation in the rest of the world.  America has always had its detractors.  The Ugly American is a stereotype that came out of the Cold War.  It is the title of a book that portrayed a man in the foreign service whose obtuseness made him a liability in the contest between western democracies and communist dictatorships to win friends throughout the world.  The man was ignorant and dismissive of local languages and culture and customs and refused to integrate with the countries in which he worked.  American foreign policy was failing.  The book produced controversy and a change in American foreign policy and was behind the formation of the Peace Corps.  

After World War II,  the United States became a paragon of democracy.  Its policies of rebuilding the countries it defeated in the war,  its democratic institutions, and the technical advances and prosperity it produced became the envy and model of the world.  Countries strove to adopt its public education system which was regarded as the driving force behind the country's successes.  In the 1960s as a more knowledgeable and effectual diplomatic corps took the field for the U.S.,  its stature and influence became more pronounced.  The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the result of decades of people throughout the world being exposed to and understanding the American presence.  

In response to Donald Trump/s deprecations of the United States,  some Canadian neighbors have organized a campaign to Tell American It's Great.  The fact is that America is held in esteem by much of the rest of the world and, according to a PEW global poll,  trust in President Obama has remained high throughout his term of office.  Much of the world regards Donald Trump as a kind of loathsome absurdity.  While foreign governments are reserved in commenting about Trump so as not to appear to be meddling in American politics, cultural and social leaders throughout the world do comment on how despicable he is. But the the picture of an ugly American,  a different kind of ugly,  is being established throughout the world.  

Donald Trump has put himself on full display as he has sought the candidacy for president of the U.S.  His strongest point cited by his supporters is that he is a business man.  Even in that role,  he possesses all the character traits that are regarded as detestable.  His debates and campaign appearances document a personality of infantile tantrums, obscenely degenerate, and maliciously dishonest.  Fact checkers have repeatedly shown that the majority of things he says are lies.  In a word,  he is utter trash.  And still,  he has a following  of a huge segment of Americans. 

The previous post raises the question of whether Trump has changed America or merely revealed an aspect of American character that already exists, an ugly inclination toward racism, bigotry, stupidity, and destructive meanness.  This kind of ugly American is the gift that Trump has presented to the world.

And, nothing has diminished the reputation of the U.S. as much as the rise of Trump to become the presidential candidate of a major political party.  Even if Trump is defeated,  this characterization of America will dominate the business of the nation,  both inside and outside of its borders.  The new ugly American has asserted himself, and dealing with him may well be the major business of the U.S.  in coming years,  to the detriment of all those aspects of America that a majority of its people and  much of the rest of the world recognized as its greatness.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States