In my last post I discussed how Brits in America often play up their British-ness depending on the circumstances. Most of us have received preferential treatment, or at least a flurry of compliments, purely because we’re British, or British sounding. (“It sounds so much more intelligent when you say it”. “You could read the phone book and I would listen”.) Most of us also know exactly how to make our national identity work for us too.The longer I live on this side of the Pond however, the more I find myself identifying (in part) with the USA. The mantra “Not wrong, just different” is employed regularly when discussing American speech, spelling and grammar with Brits who have leapt to the assumption that the American version is wrong.
I confess to dropping this American loyalty like a murder weapon when the conversation turns to politics though. Friends and family in the UK are aghast at the situation here and I make no attempt to explain or defend anything at all. Yes, they have all gone crazy. Yes, they really are serious about him. etc. etc. You get the picture.
But Americans today? Hello? What are they thinking?
This is the type of thing Trump used to say before he ran for office and got all Presidential. “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.” He is also credited with this blinder after appearing on the View “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” He (or a surrogate) has defended himself because well, he wasn’t running for President then, so it apparently doesn’t matter.
So you’d assume that when he threw his hat into the ring he’d sound like, well, someone capable of dealing with people from all walks of life, from all over the world and from every culture. Wouldn’t you? So what do we get from Trump Take 2?
‘Fraid not. He launched his campaign with this one – “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” And has this to say of himself – “I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.” (This from the guy who is being sued for “deceptive business practices” because of his Trump University dealings, btw).
Of course there have always been “joke” political candidates in the UK. Anyone remember Screaming Lord Sutch and his Monster Raving Looney party? The difference between that and what’s happening here is that we all knew Sutch didn’t have a chance. His was more of a protest, a chance to rail against the absurdities he saw in the UK political scene. (Incidentally, some of the party’s manifesto items weren’t altogether idiotic – the right to vote at 18, and all day pub openings being the most well known.)
Even worse is that Trump managed to drag most of his opponents into the kindergarten bun fight with him. Marco Rubio teased Trump about the size of his hands (apparently a very sore point, despite what Trump will have us believe). This of course, led to the inevitable reference to other anatomical dimensions – all during a live, nationally televised political debate. Ted Cruz managed to stay above the fray as far as hurling his own insults, but allowed Trump to bait him over his wife’s appearance instead of ignoring him as one would any tiresome toddler. Saturday Night Live writers don’t need to make anything up – they can quote some of these clowns verbatim.
So yes, when my Brit friends laugh at the American political stage, I’m right there with them at the moment. Sigh.