On January 18, 2018, just seven days after President Trump made his remark about people from “shithole countries,” the Gallup news organization released the results of a new poll. It revealed that globally, when 1,000 adults from 134 countries around the world were asked about U.S. leadership and their approval of the United States in general, median approval of U.S. leadership is 30%, down from 48% in 2016. U.S. approval dropped substantially in 65 countries and areas.
The Pew Research Center conducted a similar survey among people from 34 nations in June of 2017, with similar findings: a median of just 22% expressed confidence in Trump’s ability to do the right thing when it came to international affairs. The overall image of the United States has fallen as well: from a positive image rating of 64% at the end of the Obama presidency, now only 49% of respondents had a positive view of the U.S. Also sobering is the fact that positive image ratings have fallen among people from countries that have always been staunch allies of the U.S. Only Russia and Vietnam have shown an increase in the rate of people with a positive view. While most respondent feel that their county’s relationship with the U.S. will remain unchanged over the next few years, the majority of those who did anticipate a change anticipated that it would be negative.
What can we draw from this research? Republican leadership, with Donald Trump as its head, is damaging international relationships abroad. While Trump would naively proselytize that America comes first, in fact such polls and other dynamics demonstrate how interconnected we are. People are ashamed for us, and foreign governments are responding to their citizens’ will. But, for those of us who have day jobs and choose not to be political junkies, perhaps we can characterize this issue from the viewpoint of a family. When a family member only thinks of themselves, the quality of relationships deteriorates. When a family member only thinks of themselves at the expense of others, it hurts.
And, like a family trying to heal, perhaps our national work is to first acknowledge the hurt we are creating. For, from my perspective, we are hurting both our national family and our global family, and no family should have to live in pain.
*Thanks to my colleague, Tedrowe, for contributing his insights to this post.