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America First, France Second?

By Julie Dine, French Language Assistant

Living in the U.S. during the latest elections was a deeply upsetting experience. Many people were shocked from the results, myself included. One could say Oregon filled with a very open-minded, tolerant, and caring population. So, naturally, it was a hard time for our university. People were obviously down, and some lost their trust in the system. All around campus, a place of celebration of intellectualism, very few wanted to accept this man as their president.

What really struck me was the reaction here! A wave of support for the disenfranchised rose from a dark place of anger and disbelief which swept over Willamette. It felt so warm and elevating; thank you all for being such a supportive community during this dark period and to care about one another.

This article will focus on Donald Trump: the 45th President of the United States, my opinion of him and his election, what French people say in the matter, and the consequences of his elections even further than the U.S. border.

I. Who is Trump?

I remember back in France some videos about Trump saying all kind of absurdities that were circulating on social media. I remember thinking he was too sloppy and offensive to be elected. I was just mocking videos of him. He was a joke to me. I wasn’t the only one. We all regret underestimating him now.

It saddens me to admit it, but now that I have studied him I have a more nuanced opinion about him. He manipulated everyone to get where he is now. People are very emotional about him and I can’t say I wasn’t. Actually, writing this article was hard because I couldn’t make myself watch him and his “reality show.” Everything he says is so hateful and toxic that it hurts to read it. But who is Donald Trump and how did he get elected?

First and foremost, he’s a chameleon, a true opportunist. He seems to know which buttons to push to influence the public. What really struck me during the presidential debates is his attitude – I found him very egocentric in his attitude, even childish. He likes to shock because he wants people to talk about him. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s good or bad, but maybe: “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”? I wonder whether he believes anything he says since switching sides on major subjects is usual for him. An amusing example would be his opinion of Hillary Clinton. He supported her in the 2008 elections (publicly and financially) and even said she was a great senator and “a terrific woman.” Over time he has also changed his public view on more life-and-death subjects like immigration, abortion, the Afghanistan war, etc.

On another hand, he’s driven by a “do as I say, not as I do” code of conduct. Consider undocumented people in the U.S., for example: he wants to cut them out now but a few years ago he was hiring them for his own benefits. He’s also very open to the world’s diversity concerning his wives! There are many other occurrences attitude, such as with taxes. which he openly admitted not to pay during the presidential debate. So, he’s not a great example for a leader. Not to mention, he is rude and disrespectful. So how did he get elected?

Here are some of the reasons I (finally) managed to catch on to, to explain how anybody would vote for him:

To begin with: he’s rich. People take this as proof of his business genius, and trust him to invest his money on the country’s future. In a world at the verge of bankruptcy, people are so scared about their future that it blinds them. People are also scared of the unknown, terrorist menace. He knew how to take advantage of this anxiety and redirect it efficiently.

Second, he’s entertaining to watch. He puts on a real show around with his persona. You can see he’s a showman; he even worked in the business for years. He incarnates the American show business for me: huge and limitless. Moreover, his star status. He’s been on the tabloids for almost forty years! People feel connected to him. He even incarnates the American Dream with his success-story life.

Another important reason: people want to shake society around. No more elites in power leading the people. He’s not a “part of the system”.

Then, some people are totally fed up by the constant monitoring of political correctness. They want to be able to express themselves without being judged. They also feel that politicians are completely fake and two-faced. Hillary exemplified this political correctness by wearing this sort of “social mask” constantly. A lot felt she was not speaking the truth and couldn’t be trusted.

Nevertheless, despite his apparent unashamed free speech, Trump was proven to lie a lot more than Hillary. According to a fact checking website, 77% of his declarations is between “half false” and “false”.

He truly played his game (and money) effectively to hoist himself to the top of the world, but what does the world think about him? Let’s take a look at France.

II. France’s chatterbox:

So I used three different ways to try to give you a picture of the French’s opinion of Trump:

1. Asking around with my friends and family
2. Newspapers and official evening news
3. YouTube videos

Most of my family and friends side against Trump and shared my disbelief at his election. My dad thinks he only cares about money, my sister feels like America turned into a sketch reality show, and my mother doesn’t think that he respects anyone. Many of my friends think that America is going to take a step backwards under his presidency. Some are even asking me if I believe he can make it until the end of his term or if he’s going to be impeached. Time will tell.

I read somewhere that 75% of the French population is against Trump (drawing in a famous journal). If you watch the Vox pop videos linked, it seems that it’s even more than that. Only one big French politician sided for him during the elections: Marine Le Pen. Trump’s not making it easy to come to terms with him. Here are quotes I noted from some Vox pop and the French evening news (links on the Bibliography) to try to show you the public input:

Francois Hollande (current French President) made a concerned speech after the results:

“Cette élection ouvre une période d’incertitude, je dois l’aborder avec lucidité et clarté. J’engagerai sans tarder une discussion […] mais je le ferais avec vigilance et franchise” / This election opens a period of political uncertainty, I have to approach it with lucidity and perspicuity. I’ll undertake without delay a discussion […] but I’ll do it with due care and straightness.

The congratulations were pretty cold from the majority of countries’ leaders; it was a big event around the world:

“Ce qu’il propose c’est vraiment effrayant…” / What he’s offering is truly terrifying… When you watch the news in France, you can feel that the atmosphere is electric and feel some anxiety in the air.

“C’est une sorte de guignol… Donc voter pour Trump c’est voter pour le cirque !” / He’s a sort of clown… So, voting for Trump is voting for the circus! At Nice’s Carnival was a huge Trump float over the parade to personify surconsommation around the World.

Finally, don’t forget that Trump’s critics are louder than his followers. People who agree with him will avoid saying it out loud and favor staying in the shadows. Therefore, any poll in the matter is irrelevant. I only heard one voice coming out of the population making it hard to foresee numbers. Nevertheless, few coyly take his side anyway:

“Il dit les choses que les gens pensent mais n’osent pas dire!” / He says things that most people think and don’t daresay.

Two thirds of the French people think that this election will have consequences in France. But how? By changing the relationships between France and the U.S.? Or maybe even by influencing our own elections in two months. I will now change the focal point of this article and talk about the coming elections in France.

III. Will France be next?

For the elections, the situation in France is also concerning. Marine Le Pen, who is like our Trump-figure back home, could win. She represents the nationalist party but she is very different from him. She is entirely politically correct and talks like a fierce lawyer. She is also an elite and an experienced politician. Last elections, she lost in the second ballot against François Hollande, the current president.

Usually in France, the votes are divided between the two big parties: Left (La Gauche) and Right (La Droite). Few others go to the extremes or smaller parties. But this year, the Right candidate was politically “assassinated” just after being chosen. And hence, the usual “Right votes” might be redirected toward the extreme right party: Le Front National. During the past 15 years, this party has been growing tremendously and it now seems that nothing can stop them from winning these elections. To try to fight back, smaller parties are trying to stand together to show a united front against the Front National. The Left and The Green (ecological party) started talking last week about forming an alliance. The big hope is that the situation here (in the U.S.) could influence France to go vote and not let the extremes rise from their passivity. At the very least, to avoid guilt toward the results.

But I’m not an expert on the subject so I won’t extrapolate. If you are interested you can join the French Club for a special event during the elections on the 25th of April.

So, what will we become? Some fear for a Third World War to start from Trump’s lack of diplomacy. It’s the most important aspect of politically correctness: protect the feelings of others to avoid hurting them. As an essential component to international relations. His manners are dangerous. In fact, it was also one of his standpoints: focusing on the U.S. and putting “America First.” However, he risks closing the country toward itself.

In Oregon, we can already feel the wave of indignation and discord created by his leadership. He’s making a lot of decisions on heavy subjects. A lot of steps against personal freedom have been taken by Trump since his inauguration. Obviously, the financial situation is not improving yet.

The worst right now is the deep fracture that Trump’s election created, essentially dividing the country in two hostile sides. There’s always a fracture in the population after an election but this time it feels a lot deeper. One side of the population is viscerally shocked by the elections results and can’t even start to understand the reasons leading the other half to follow Trump and vote for him. Could it grow into dividing the States? Inwardly and outwardly it’s not really flourishing right now… Trump got elected mostly to stimulate the economy and pull out capitalism from its state of lethargy. Will he have some success? Will the economy rise again? Obviously, I don’t have any real answers regarding that. But I’m pretty sure he doesn’t bode well for either of our futures, or the world’s.


YouTube videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V2GTKFMY7c who is he?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVSNTuEGyEQ who is he?
10 reasons that would make Trump a bad president
Trump against politically correct

Il dit tout haut ce que tout le monde pense tout bas!


Contactons les fans facebook de Trump

Trump is not Hitler

Micro-trottoirs / Vox pop:




Le 20H sur France 2 / Evening news on a national channel:


Trump’s worst twitter posts (and that’s saying something!):


Fact checker’s numbers:


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