Politicians, in so far as they remained necessary, would be kept at work - but not with any insane notion that they were archangels."
H.L. Mencken essay on Being an American
There are these moments in every migration journey when an American expatriate looks at her country of origin from abroad and has this queer feeling that she no longer recognizes the place. Detached from the taken-for-grantedness of the American life and swimming in very different cultural and political waters, many things in the homeland now strike her as bizarre, even frightening.
Bizarre is exactly the word I would use describe the Donald Trump campaign. In some ways it's pure entertainment. Trump is genuinely funny and so off the wall that people all around the world are mesmerized by his antics.
If you don't care much for politicians his humiliation of the Republican establishment (and his potential for pulling the same trick on the Democrat candidate) will make you cackle with glee. About time someone pulled back the veneer of respectability and highmindness and revealed the US presidential race for what it is: a dance of hypocrites and liars. The tragedy of every election is that people have such hope that this time things will be different and Something Will be Done. These hopes are almost inevitably dashed when the candidate takes office and goes about the messy business of actually running the country.
That said, is Trump the Republican candidate good or bad for Americans abroad? On the balance, putting aside my amusement and looking at it very coldly, I think it's bad for us. I speak only for myself but the two things I really care about in this election are: FATCA/CBT and US foreign policy. Diaspora, not national issues. My take, for example, on a hot domestic topic like immigration comes from my experience as an American emigrant. Frankly, I don't see what the fuss is about back in the Old Country. And having to listen for years to the anti-immigrant rhetoric in my host country (France), these days I really don't have much patience for it anywhere.
Concerning Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and citizenship-based taxation, I do not see a statement by Trump anywhere about where he stands on FATCA repeal or mitigation, or what he thinks about moving to a residence-based tax system. The Republican party establishment has made efforts to address the concerns of Americans abroad. There is a lawsuit (FATCA Legal Action) and calls to repeal the law by Republican lawmakers. All things that I want to hear in 2016. But Trump as candidate threatens to undo all that good work because he's running against the establishment, the very people who are ostensibly on our side.
As for foreign policy, as an American abroad I remember what it was like to have a US president who was viewed with contempt internationally and considered to be a blustering incompetent fool. American homelanders can dismiss this with a sniff and a refusal to watch or read the international media. However, when you are living outside the US it is an extremely unpleasant experience that one can't escape so easily - not when these things are being discussed at work, at the local bar, or at home over dinner. That the nationals in the host country dislike your president is one thing, that they think he is a figure of fun and not to be taken seriously is another. Trump is already all of those things and he hasn't even been nominated, yet.
The wonderful thing about Trump is that he reveals the farce that is the US presidential race, and invites us to see it as a comedy. On some level we are all enjoying the show. However, the fun ends when one realizes that supporting him is really not in one's best interests. That is the conclusion I've come to: I think Trump would be disaster for me and my fellow Americans abroad and it frightens me to think that he might have a chance.
As for the homelanders, I don't think he's good for them either. His supporters are making the same mistake that Mencken wrote about in 1922; they confuse him with an archangel, and they are making false assumptions and raising false hopes. Trump is now a politician which means that one day he will inevitably disappoint even the most ardent of his supporters.
No, homelanders, Mexico won't pay for the wall,