Gallup just released their latest numbers detailing how the rest of the world views US leadership. One of the principal promises of the Trump campaign would be that its stalwart would put “America First”, however from the Gallup data, it’s clear that this has been at the expense of our reputation around the world.
Tomorrow marks one year into the Trump administration, but Gallup’s report might not be particularly surprising given the events of last year. Some of our closest allies have directly challenged Trump on a multitude of issues: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged a commitment to the refugees of the Muslim world after Trump’s immigration ban. French President Emmanuel Macron gave birth to his “Make Our Planet Great Again” campaign, made 13 US scientists laureates after Trump failed to renew our commitment to the Paris Climate Accords. UK Prime Minister Teresa May publicly decried Trump’s tweeting of anti-Muslim videos, calling it “wrong”. Even anecdotally, countries that were once our allies have had a difficult time interacting with Trump on the world stage.
On the eve of his first anniversary in office, a government shutdown looms at the stroke of midnight. Trump’s administration, riddled with controversies and criticisms–almost on a daily basis, has been challenging for an unprecedented number of Americans who disapprove of Trump in his first year, but also for those around the world. The rest of the world has looked to the United States for leadership, but for the first time, countries are being forced to look elsewhere for examples of leadership as the United States seems inconsistent on its foreign policy positions, at best.
Trump has made it clear that he has no interest in appeasing our allies, but rather it seems Trump has aggressively pursued foreign policy positions that directly appeal to small segments of his base. It’s hard to argue for Trump’s long game here (if he even has one). While his actions might win him temporary small victories, it is clear he has such staunch opposition at home and abroad, no subsequent administration would take up Trump’s hodgepodge of foreign policy positions.
In the past 6 months, over 60% of Americans have disapproved of Trump’s performance in office. Given that Trump has demonstrated his unwillingness to be a world leader, it is up to the American public to step in to show the rest of the world that America will lead. Millions of Americans have answered this call in the past year, motivated by their disagreement with this administration and its policies. America is seeing a resurgence of public interest and engagement in politics. For example, millions of Americans will again join the second annual Women’s March tomorrow, but even while the images of crowds of people filling major Americans cities will be encouraging and dramatic for those opposed to the administration, it will not be enough.
In 2018 and 2020, Americans will need to show its leadership to the rest of the world by voting against Trump. And it won’t be enough if Trump loses. Americans need to demonstrate that it has always been a world leader and we can only do that if there is no question that America stands against Trump. Trump needs to lose and he needs to lose big. We’ve seen glimmers of that in the gubernatorial election in Virginia, the senate election in Alabama, and even a congressional district in Wisconsin. The rest of the world waits on baited breath to see how the American public will lead, and one year in, there’s signs that America never lost its leadership.