As the prospect of Donald Trump winning the Republican Party's presidential nomination grew more realistic, the questions became more common: what would it say to the rest of the world if Americans elected Trump to the White House? Just how much damage would such an election do the United States' credibility?
And while those questions obviously matter, it's also worth pausing to appreciate the fact that Trump's current standing is already
doing damage in the eyes of the world. Reuters published an interesting report
Foreign diplomats are expressing alarm to U.S. government officials about what they say are inflammatory and insulting public statements by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, according to senior U.S. officials. Officials from Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia have complained in recent private conversations, mostly about the xenophobic nature of Trump's statements, said three U.S. officials, who all declined to be identified.
The piece quoted a senior NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying, "European diplomats are constantly asking about Trump's rise with disbelief and, now, growing panic."
It's inevitable that American presidential elections are going to generate some international attention. The U.S. role as a global superpower means that decisions made here have an effect practically everywhere, so when American voters go about choosing the "Leader of the Free World," a global audience tends to keep an eye on the process.
And right about now, it seems much of the planet is worried, not only about a leading U.S. candidate, but also what in the world so many Americans are thinking.
U.S. officials said it was highly unusual for foreign diplomats to express concern, even privately, about candidates in the midst of a presidential campaign. U.S. allies in particular usually don't want to be seen as meddling in domestic politics, mindful that they will have to work with whoever wins. Senior leaders in several countries -- including Britain, Mexico, France, and Canada -- have already made public comments criticizing Trump's positions. German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel branded him a threat to peace and prosperity in an interview published on Sunday.
I continue to think part of the problem is the Republican Party's unique status among advanced democracies. As we've discussed
before, the GOP in the United States is the only major party in the advanced world that denies climate change, opposes universal health care, and believes citizens should have largely unfettered access to firearms.
As a result, the party is bound to make decisions that international observers find baffling -- there's just nothing else like our Republican Party in any democracy in the Western world.