If Clinton and Trump were Dutch

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American Politics Abroad: if Clinton and Trump Were Dutch

I was at my weekly trip to the Primera convenience store in Nieuw Bergen, a small town in Limburg, in The Southeast Netherlands. When I was checking out, the man behind the counter, noticing I couldn’t speak Dutch, asked if I was visiting and I told him I was from the United States. He nodded before pointing to my total on the small screen adjacent to the cash register. As I fished through my wallet for the appropriate amount of Euro, the man nonchalantly asked, “Are you going to vote for Trump?” Taken aback, but also intrigued by this question, I started to wonder how Dutch people felt about the American Presidential election.

Because a lot of the issue1920s being talked about in the Netherlands, (healthcare, immigration, islamophobia, etc.) are also being talked about in the U.S., I wondered if a candidate like Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump would ever make it through a Dutch election.

In the Netherlands, though there are still some right winged politicians, the country is pretty liberal. Drug regulation, national healthcare, and gay marriage are all things that have already been established by the Dutch, and the U.S. has a long way to go if they want to catch up. Catching up wouldn’t be so difficult from where the United States already is. The U.S. has gay marriage under it’s belt, recreational marijuana legalized in one state, and a small start to government provided healthcare (Obamacare).

The fact that Trump avidly hates Obamacare, is something that a Dutch person would not take a liking to. In an interview with CNN, he once said that the Affordable Care Act has “gotta go,” which to a Dutch person, who has experienced affordable health coverage, he wouldn’t be preaching to the choir.

Dr. Evert Van Der Zweerde, a professor of political philosophy at Radboud University in Nijmegen thinks that Trump wouldn’t stand a chance in a Dutch election.

“If we had a president, like in the US, and we held elections, I think Clinton would win indefinitely. I think the Netherlands are generally much more on the big government side, we want the government to take care of all kinds of things… and in that sense, Clinton is much closer to mainstream Dutch politics.”

Professor Van Der Zweerde said that Dutch people would favor the left wing of American politics because it’s closer to what is already established in the Netherlands.

“Something like Obamacare is similar to what we’ve already had for decades. Obamacare is a very limited program in comparison to what exists in this country. Which means that people here see it as a first step in the right direction.”

Opposite of her opponent, Clinton publicly supports the Affordable Care Act, and claims to make Obamacare even better. Since she seems to have an obvious chance of winning in the Netherlands, I questioned if any Dutch person would vote for Trump. Dr. Van Der Zweerde had an answer. 

“Because there is a large influx of immigration here in the Netherlands, some people would be in favor of his closed border immigration policy he plans to impose. The numbers aren’t very large, it would be about 10% of the population.”

Ten percent of the population here in the Netherlands is about 1.6 million people, which compared to 16.8 million doesn’t seem like a lot, but is still quite a big amount outside of the US that would be in favor of Trump. Dr. Van Der Zweerde says he’s not convinced that Trump would even poll well in the Netherlands, because the media mostly informs Dutch citizens of his personality, not his policy.

“I don’t think a Dutch politician could get away with the kind of things Trump is saying and may have been doing in the past. Here, people would be even more critical of that. He would be marginal [in the polls].”

In such a liberal country I was surprised to learn that such a large amount of people would support Trump, but with the influx of immigrants to Europe, and the growing xenophobia and Islamophobia that is a result, it isn’t very far fetched.

The man behind the counter at Primera, who I learned is named Bart Van Liken, does think the idea of Trump as a candidate for Dutch parliament is plausible, he says that,“Here in the Netherlands, Trump would have possibilities. Plus, here we have a similar person, Geert Wilders. In some parts, the intellectual level in Holland is not that high, sort of like in America. So you’ve got a guy with a big mouth, and a lot of people think that’s okay.”

When people are afraid of big changes, like the ones that come with mass immigration and movement of people, they look for someone who promise that things will not. Sometimes these people propose to stop change with things like closed borders and big walls.

It is hard to believe that in a country where prostitution and weed is legal, a candidate like Donald Trump would never stand a chance, but I am glad to know that Hillary Clinton would do well in Holland, because it means a hopeful future for the United States, should she win.

Sarah Maugaotega

Sarah Maugaotega

"Another day, another slay" - Skai Jackson

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