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Practical Politics

The politics of peeving the world off

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 6/29/2017, midnight

Barack Obama brought cool, intellectual flair and ‘steady-hand” integrity to the office of POTUS. Donald Trump, in his quixotic quest to undo much of Mr. Obama’s successful legacy, has brought a reputation as a relentless liar who is incompetent to be the POTUS. (The New York Times just published a collected list of every public lie President Trump told during his first 40 days in office—averaging three lies per day.) One wonders about the model he is presenting to the impressionable young people of this country as they seek to emulate the president.

Time will tell, and probably more sooner than later, how long Mr. Trump will last as president, but early results have not been good to him or for him. Recently, in a poll that Mr. Obama did very, very well in, in 2016, that measured world opinion and confidence in his leadership of the USA, Mr. Trump’s presidency has had a “major negative impact on how the world sees the United States.” This is one of the major conclusions in the 2017 Pew Research Center’s World Survey of over 40,447 interviewees in 37 countries. The Pew Center is a highly respected, non-partisan “fact tank” that does regular opinion surveys on social issues, public perceptions, and demographic trends.

In 2016, towards the end of his presidency, Obama had a 64 percent favorability rating in that world survey. Donald Trump’s rating is currently at only 49 percent. In America’s longtime allies, like Germany, more than 80 percent of those surveyed had confidence in Obama’s leadership, while only 11 percent now have confidence in Mr. Trump’s. Only 22 percent of those allies think Mr. Trump can be trusted to do the right thing in a crisis. Although most of those surveyed do think Mr. Trump is a “strong leader,” mainly because of the brash, hyperbolic style of talking associated with him, less than 35 percent think of him as a competent, qualified leader.

Of the 37 countries surveyed, the only two that rated Mr. Trump more favorably than Mr. Obama in any leadership category are Israel and Russia. From Africa to India to South America, those residents surveyed think that Mr. Trump is too rash, too petty and too unprepared for the job as president of the USA.

Worst, Mr. Trump’s unpopularity has been bad for the image of the entire USA. The survey of 37 countries since Trump took office found that the global median unfavorable views of the U.S.A. rose from 26 percent to 39 percent overall. Additionally, according to the survey, “The share of the world public with a positive view of the U.S. has plummeted (drastically) in a diverse set of countries from Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa (and this does not include ISIS).”

Americans traveling abroad this summer, including African Americans, should prepare themselves for a bit of extra coolness in the air, as much of the world’s population wonders about the people who could elect such a crass and craven head of state. Is this what American democratic exceptionalism really means? It is one thing to isolate oneself from one’s friends, and quite another to be isolated by them, particularly in such dangerous times.

A thought on which to reflect as we go about our dailies.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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