Europe aware of American divide

Since we were going to Scotland to visit friends, we voted absentee this year on election day. That also meant that we viewed the U.S. elections from abroad which was interesting in itself.

Our Scottish friends are Conservatives (Tories,) and so each day we would read The Daily Telegraph to get our news. (The Telegraph is a long-standing, well-known, conservative-oriented newspaper in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and is referred to by our friends as “The Torygraph.”)

On the Thursday following the U.S. elections the headlines in The Telegraph read: “America stays divided after the midterm elections” with a sub-headline stating “President is stronger than you might think.” Both, I thought accurately reflected what was going on in our national politics back home.

Unfortunately, at about this same time, President Trump was getting negative headlines in the U.K. and throughout Europe because of his confrontation with President Macron of France. The President was in France to represent the United States at ceremonies commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. It was to be an uplifting moment to gather with our allies and remember the thousands of soldiers who gave their lives in that conflict. (About one-third of our war dead from World War I are still buried in American cemeteries on French soil.)

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, 2018, church services and ceremonies across Europe marked the end of that horrific war.

However, the message of American sacrifice made in bringing it to an end became subsumed in personal controversy because the President “tweeted” his disgust with Macron and then cancelled a scheduled trip to an American World War I cemetery.

All of this is to say that America continues to be widely covered in the European press and what our President does (or says) is a big part of that. There is also some yearning in the U.K. that the political “glue” that holds the United States together is needed right now in Europe. The current government headed by Prime Minister Theresa May could fall because what she is proposing for “Brexit” is splitting her own Conservative Party, and people are realizing that the past 70 years of relative peace and cooperation in Europe is not something that can be taken for granted.

So where do the British think American politics are going in the future? One of the articles mentioned above ended with this analysis:

“Demography is destiny and there’s no escaping the sense that Trump speaks for those who are essentially trying to preserve a way of life — rather than the younger, more culturally liberal Americans who are trying to build a new one.”


Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.