You could almost hear a collective gasp. Early on November 9th, many Europeans awoke to some news they had thought impossible when their heads hit their pillows the night before; a Trump presidential victory. Such was the mood of the polls that a Clinton victory seemed all but assured, which had suited many Europeans just fine. The shocking upset led many Europeans to call their American counterparts to make sense of what had just taken place. This cacophony of various languages and levels of concern was fueled by a simple yet important fact: Trump makes Europe and its citizens nervous, very nervous.
The Importance of NATO
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) consists of both Canada and the US, along with Europe (No Switzerland is not a member but who cares?). For more than 60 years it has been used as a way to hem in the Soviet Union (now Russia) with the simple premise of “Strength in Numbers”. This has led to a collective agreement that if one member of NATO is attacked or at war, the others will join the fray. While NATO is meant to predominantly protect European countries from Russian influence, many have not been paying the required 2% of their GDP to the fund. The US meanwhile is paying roughly 3.61% of its GDP, more than triple what Germany or Italy pay. Trump called this into question during his campaign and has vowed to make Europe pay more or risk losing American aid and support.
American Global Influence
While America has been spared any dictatorship in the last 250 years, Europe has much more recent history to draw and reflect upon. Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler are just a few of the dictators that systematically wrecked havoc on Europe in the 20th century. Because of this, Europeans are wary of any nationalistic or patriotic slogans and of too much power being concentrated. To many Europeans, Trump has the charisma and potential to go and do whatever he wants. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” as the saying goes. Trump's presidential powers will be further enhanced by expanded Executive order responsibilities which were widely used by the Obama administration. America's global military influence and her unrivaled international financial reach provided by the world's largest economy, means that whatever Trump decides to do will have major ramifications the world over.
Degradation of Women
Lastly, Europe is much more liberal than the United States, with prostitution legal in Amsterdam and gay marriage being passed in many European countries in the 1990's. In this way, Trump seems to many Europeans to be from a bygone age of machismo. His stance on women is particularly difficult for many citizens of Europe, who support the feminist movement and total equality for women.
Speaking generally about a continent with over 500 million people is never easy. But purely based on what this author has personally experienced seeing in newspapers and television shows in Germany, Holland, and France, it is safe to say that Americans won't be the only ones eagerly anticipating the start of a Trump presidency in January and what changes it will bring.
About the Author
Some may call Hunter, Mr. International. Natively from Tennessee, Hunter recently graduated with his masters in European Politics & Economics at Europa-Universität Flensburg in Flensburg, Germany and now resides in Hamburg. He fluently speaks German and resides in Hamburg.