Something that Americans often seem oddly unaware of is how unpopular Trump is abroad and how much he has diminished America’s standing in the world. I do not know a single person in the UK or in New Zealand who likes him. Even my most right-wing/conservative friends who support the British Conservative Party or the New Zealand National Party have an extremely low opinion of the president. Conversely, many people who are left-wing/liberal actually have a good opinion of Republican presidents such as Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan, and Bush Sr.
Lest you say that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones, let me be the first to say that the UK’s current prime minister is probably our worst since Anthony Eden or even perhaps Neville Chamberlain. I am certainly not claiming that Boris Johnson is a great statesman who commands respect on the world stage. On the other hand, as a New Zealander, I can certainly say that we take great pride in seeing how Jacinda Ardern is admired throughout the world. We are also proud of Helen Clark’s international status. Oddly, while Tony Blair is now very unpopular in the UK, it is somewhat gratifying to know that he is still admired in many parts of the world, including the United States, Kosovo, and much of the developing world.
I am afraid that Trump is simply beyond the pale for most people in the UK and New Zealand (and much of the rest of the world). His behaviour has been disgraceful. He boasts about sexually assaulting women; he mocked a disabled journalist; he insults his rivals; he treats the media with contempt; he has insulted people who died in their service of their country as well as prisoners of war; he uses racist dog whistles and has failed to disavow racist individuals and organisations; when he met the British prime minister, he was so poorly prepared that he had to ask her whether the UK has nuclear weapons; he pursues ridiculous personal feuds, e.g. against Rosie O’Donnell and against Sadiq Khan; he has run two election campaigns on the basis of false allegations against his opponents; he has made bizarre comments about Ivanka, including telling Howard Stern that it was acceptable to call her “a piece of a*s”; he fat-shamed a beauty pageant winner. One could go on and on really.
Outside the US, people are appalled that anybody can vote for this man. The qualities that we look for in a politician are things like dignity, decency, and honour. That is why we admire Jimmy Carter so much. That is why even Margaret Thatcher’s strongest critics are able to recount numerous stories of her kindness to everybody from Cabinet ministers to her secretaries, domestic staff, and police protection officers and even to children who wrote letters to her and received personal replies. It is also why we have such a low opinion of politicians who have disgraced themselves in particularly egregious ways, such as Jeffrey Archer, Jonathan Aitken, and Cecil Parkinson.