The Morning After

By Christelle Ram

The morning after the 2016 elections I woke up with a headache, bloodshot eyes, and an aching neck. I think I’ll refer to it as a political hangover—after all, each of the symptoms paralleled the dreaded morning-after effects. I hesitated to open my eyes, but I could only go so long without checking my phone. It had been vibrating since the early hours of the morning, and I, unfortunately, could no longer ignore it. My phone was flooded with notifications—missed texts, phone calls, Whatsapp messages, and Facebook notifications. Friends and family members had contacted me after news of the President- elect Donald Trump had hit their side of the world. The immediate responses of my peers overseas—shock, confusion, disbelief— mirrored the general attitude felt by those living right here in the United States of America. The reverberations of the election of Donald Trump are not neatly contained within the confines of American borders. The policies carried out by the United States and its elected leader create irrevocable and immutable changes throughout the contemporary world. Each step, handshake, exchange, and law enacted may carry a significant impact for global leaders and people across the face of the planet.

The morning after the 2016 elections I woke up with a headache, bloodshot eyes, and an aching neck. I think I’ll refer to it as a political hangover…

Leaders ranging from Russian President Vladimir Putin to United Nations Secretary Ban-Ki Moon congratulated the newly elected president, voicing hope to restore ties and create a more united world. Calls rang in soon after the results were finalized. The election of Donald Trump was met with a variation of responses; powerful figures and citizens alike look to the new president with either extreme hope or extreme hesitance. He was greeted with immediate congratulations from a variety of world leaders—kudos were presented almost immediately by Vladimir Putin, who declared his wishes for a more peaceful union between the former Cold War foes and spoke in favor of a relationship “based on principles of equality, mutual respect and a real accounting each other’s positions.” Leaders of Israel and Palestine echoed these congratulations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring President Trump a “true friend of Israel.” Many world leaders communicate a sense of hope, wishing to repair historically strained relations, as seen in the case of both Russia and China, who have enthusiastically welcomed the new Administration with open arms.

Leaders in Western Europe, however, were more muted in their cheers, calling the period of his leadership one of “uncertainty.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande promised “co-operation” between the superpowers, but worries over diverging values were articulated, including the changing political agendas surrounding tolerance, unity, the preservation of peace, and the roll back of efforts in response to climate change. In reality, the response of world leaders represents only a small portion of the actual global response. Foreign citizens’ responses were as nuanced, impassioned, and as varied as the responses originating from American constituents.

Tones varied from place to place—surprise, shock, resignation, celebration, and validated suspicion were the overarching emotions felt by many across the world. Even before this election, there has been a global shift towards a more conservative brand of government. This has been demonstrated in constituent support of Britain’s exit from the European Union, through the election of rightwing leaders in Australia and Austria, and in the nationalist movements gaining momentum in Sweden, France, and the Netherlands. Many citizens looked to the United States as validating the pattern of elected governments leaning rightward, but their responses were far from uniform: disappointment was expressed, cheers were exchanged, memes were made. The global reaction could very well be summed up by the litany of text messages and Snapchats I received the day after the election.

“He’s going to make America great again, Christelle!” That was proclaimed several times by a few friends in South America.

“When are you being shipped back home?” asked another friend from England.

“I refuse to watch the news; please do not say that man’s name,” declared my Dad, who resides in Guyana.

Abroad, there was a general tone of disbelief and mockery throughout the primaries and even after the nomination. Donald Trump was not taken seriously, and the election was widely seen as a joke. Therefore, the national and global shock was even more visceral. In Marrakesh, Morocco, for example, students held protests outside the United Nation’s talk on Global Warming due to President Trump’s denial of climate change. London’s American Embassy was surrounded by protestors, and citizens took to social media to express the overwhelming waves of shock reverberating around the world. Egyptians have voiced that though a Trump presidency may be good for the government, the citizens will suffer, according to The Guardian.

Supporters, however, were still present on a global scale. President Donald Trump has managed to find popularity in those looking for change, very much paralleling the present attitude of his supporters right here in the United States. Donald Trump has found unprecedented popularity in places where, historically, fans of the United States have been absent. Israelis have voiced satisfaction that Trump seems more aggressive in his foreign policy. Russians have also backed President Trump, citing his savvy business sense as a characteristic that could bring the two superpowers together.

Donald Trump is no doubt a polarizing character, and the proof of that is in the pudding. His election has left the world, in part, in complete shock, and the other part in celebration. His presidency is sure to continue this trend.

I hope that within the next four to eight years my political hangover will dissipate. Until then, it seems only fair that the United States—and the world—objectively judge the tenure  of  President Donald Trump.