January 10, 2017: My first evening living with my host family in Madrid, Spain
After giving hello kisses to everyone, I dragged my suitcase into the apartment, washed my hands and sat down at the kitchen table with a glass of water.
In less than 15 minutes, the topic came up – Donald Trump.
My 9-year-old host sister made the first comment:
“Decimos “Dollar” Trump porque él tiene mucho dinero,” she said.
(“We call him “Dollar Trump” because he has a lot of money,” she said.)
After that, we discussed our opinions of the recent U.S. elections and my journalism coverage of the Nevada caucus and election day.
If even the 9-year-olds are asking me, the “Americana” (as my host sister refers to me), about U.S. politics, it goes without saying that every adult has also asked about my opinions on U.S. politics. The day of Trump’s inauguration, it was the main thing every Spaniard asked me.
There have been two constants with my conversations about politics here in Spain:
1) Some of the first words out of every Spaniard’s mouth are “Donald Trump”.
2) Everyone has addressed the idea that the Trump presidency does not only impact the United States, it impacts the whole world.
The conversation goes something like this:
“¿Qué pasó con las elecciones de los Estados Unidos?”
(What happened with the elections in the United States?)
Or maybe they say it in less words, like:
“Donald Trump? Wow.”
Then, something interesting happens every time: the person I’m talking to switches to using first person plural, which is “we” (the “nosotros” form).
“¿Tienes, pues, TENEMOS muchos problemas ahora, no? Este gobierno en los Estados Unidos impactará todo el mundo.”
(“YOU have, well, WE have a lot of problems right now, don’t we? This United States government will impact the whole world.”)
With all of these dialogues, I have observed that the Spaniards I am speaking with are as well-versed in, or know more, than many Americans about the current status of United States politics. When my host family watches news at breakfast in the morning, there are multiple segments on the Spanish news dedicated to addressing U.S. politics and Trump’s newest actions.
U.S. politics are everywhere – in the newspaper El País, on Spanish social media accounts and even in 20 Minutos, the free newspaper I get at the metro.
The day of Trump´s inauguration (which was evening time here in Spain) Americans in Madrid organized an anti-Trump rally which marched to Puerta del Sol, a plaza in central Madrid.
Americans and Spaniards had an open mic in the plaza to voice their concerns, from Trump’s border wall to women’s rights.
All of these experiences have reinforced to me that the controversy of Donald Trump, pre and post-election, is extending far past United States borders. As an American here in Spain, I hope that having face-to-face conversations with madrileños and offering opinions about my home country helps t0 promote further social and political discussion.