How The World Sees America

For two decades, the United States presented an official face to the world that reflected the power and promise of a land of immigrants. [When Obama was elected, Kenyans said] A Luo man became president of America before one could become president of Kenya.

Helene Cooper, The New York Times

In a recent article for the New York Times, reporter Helene Cooper points to past secretaries of state whose very presence told the story of the American dream: Czech-born Madeleine Albright, Jamaican immigrants’ son Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice, born in the segregated south.

No longer.

In less than four years in office, President Trump has taken that American face back in time. The people who represent the United States at the highest levels abroad are overwhelmingly white and male.

Helene Cooper, The New York Times

The idea of representing America was something that I wanted to do ever since I was a kid. Going to other places and showing what America’s promise is – – I looked at that with a sense of reverence. [After Trump was elected, an audience in Madrid asked] ‘How can you say this is the land of promise and you have this guy in the White House?’

Chris Richardson, former US diplomat, who is African-American

Still, democracy’s institutions — the freedom of speech and of assembly, the rule of law, the separation of powers — have withstood the Trump administration’s drive toward monarchy. And our allies and enemies alike assumed that the world’s oldest democracy would continue, Helene Cooper quotes a former German ambassador.

One president can’t erase that.

Peter Wittig, former German ambassador to the United States

Then the debate happened. Our allies pity Americans and our enemies lick their chops. In a recent article for the Associated Press, reporters Jamey Keaten and Rod McGuirk write about international reaction to the childish display.

Many across the world looked on largely aghast as the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden devolved into a verbal slugfest short on substance but heavy with implications for America’s international image

Jamey Keaton and Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

My father spent his career promoting American democracy abroad through the US Information Agency. Dad could point to American elections for real-life examples of people choosing their country’s leader without demagoguery, police violence, and bringing in the military. Election night became a watch party to showcase another peaceful transition of power.

Dad’s successors in the Foreign Service are having to explain what happened Tuesday night. And the planning for November 3’s watch parties has taken on a decidedly somber tone. Imagine the diplomat posted in Kenya, where Obama’s election was such a sign of America’s promise.

This debate would be sheer comedy if it wasn’t such a pitiful and tragic advertisement for US dysfunction.

Patrick Gathara, Kenyan commentator

Our political nemesis, China, sees our democracy being shredded.

Chaos, interruptions, personal and all attacks and insults reflect overarching division, anxiety and the accelerating erosion of the systems are original advantages.

Hu Xijin, editor of China’s Communist party tabloid Global Times

Onlookers are wringing their hands.

How did America reach this level of political decline?

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, Emirati political scientist

Only by voting can we scale that hill again. We are driving to the elections office and turning our paper ballots in today.

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