PARIS — Is it over yet? With the U.S. presidential election just days away, people across the globe are as excited to be done with the whole sordid spectacle, it seems, as they are to finally find out who wins.
Suspense is building. But so too is a general sentiment of "we just can't take it any more." There's also a sense among many observers that regardless of who wins — Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton — the U.S. people and their proud democratic tradition have already lost. As France's Le Figaro argued in a recent editorial: "It doesn't take a poll to determine the big loser in the election: America's democratic dignity."
As election day nears, Worldcrunch continues to follow the global coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign.
The dirty and drawn-out election seems to be taking a toll on people's basic mental health as well. "This is the most divided campaign the United States has experienced in decades, a fight between the two most unpopular candidates in history in a country that is intensely polarized," the Spanish newspaper El Periódico pointed out this week. "To the relief of just about everyone, it's almost over."
And yet as much as people may want to move on from the whole stinking mess and never look back, there are lessons to be learned and questions still worth asking — starting with the most obvious one: how the heck did this happen? "We're 320 million people," one exasperated shopkeeper in Raleigh, North Carolina told the Argentine daily La Nación. "320 million! And these are the two best candidates we could find?"
"Hillary: Woman of problems and power— PANORAMA (Italy)
A more specific question is how Trump, despite his obvious "sexism, xenophobia, lies and ignorance," could garner such a significant following, the French business paper Les Echos recently asked. Part of the answer is his rejection of the mainstream political system, a system, the Paris daily argues, "that his adversary, Hillary Clinton, embodies in an almost caricatural way."
Something else that can't be ignored, argues journalist Patrícia Campos Mello of the Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo, is Trump's recent characterization of the election process as "rigged." His strategy is like that of ISIS fighters, who only abandon a battlefield after they've planted "numerous bombs and landmines," she wrote. "Sensing his defeat, Trump is leaving behind him a minefield that will cause the destruction of American democracy after Nov. 8."
And if he wins? Der Spiegel's columnist Jakob Augstein believes that a Trump victory would, in at least one regard, be preferable. "Trump is farce," he wrote, but would be less likely than Clinton to risk military confrontation with Russia over Syria. "For every non-American, it's true that when it comes to war and peace, Trump would probably be the better choice over Clinton," according to Augstein, whose father founded the left-leaning magazine.
"Trump, a scientific anomaly" — Québec Science
Instead, for those asking how someone like Trump could be days away from winning the presidency, there was a different perspective from Italy, which lived through nearly two decades of domination by its own unlikely political figure, Silvio Berlusconi.
For Il Manifesto, Italian author Andrea Bajani writes, in an article entitled "BerlusTrump, Italy is the worm at the center of the Big Apple": "Between the sex scandals of the two men, the arrogance proudly displayed on television, between the shared racism, economic recipes founded on wealth accumulated in the hands of the few, what they share in common before it all is the support of millions of people. It's the myopia of those who look at the clown's finger instead of the crowd of hands applauding with such enthusiasm. In Italy, we ignored those hands for 20 years, thinking, presumptuously, that the monstrosity of the man who behaves that way was so evident. And more than that, we amplified his message, laughing at it, transforming it into a joke to export to the rest of the planet."