It’s an interesting time to be an American living overseas – I can’t count how many times I’ve been in a conversation with someone in the last few months who noticed my American accent and asked about Donald Trump. He is all over the headlines in the U.S. but he is also all over the headlines here.
I barely understand the Trump phenomenon myself, how to explain it to other people? It amazes me that the same country that elected Barack Obama for two terms can also be considering Trump? It’s a bizarre and complex world we live in.
Trump apparently came to New Zealand in 1993 on a visit to convince the Casino Control Authority to support his bid for a casino in Auckland where the Auckland Railway Station is. The casino bid would ultimately fail and there is no ‘Trump Casino’ or ‘Trump Tower’ in New Zealand as a result – it would be an odd site in New Zealand I think given how laid back the culture is. I visit the Sky City Casino in Auckland and can’t imagine it as a Trump casino.
But whereas in the U.S. I know of at least some people who support him (I’m related to most of them), in New Zealand I don’t know anyone who does. Kiwis, like me, seem to be increasingly confused as to how it came to be that the biggest global power has Trump at the top of one of its major tickets. After Brexit happened, Immigration New Zealand noticed a marked increase in the number of people from the UK who applied for residency here. According to the Guardian, in the three days after Brexit, Immigration New Zealand had over 5,000 UK visits a day on their website, and “move to New Zealand” became a top Google search term.
Everyone expects the same to happen if Trump wins in the U.S. — Billy Crystal apparently started a bit of that discussion earlier this year when he publicly said he would find a ranch in NZ if Trump won. And Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg created a bit of controversy with similar remarks back in July. The New Zealand government has a page on their website that compares NZ to the U.S. but it doesn’t mention Trump.
Tonight after dinner my step-daughter showed me an app with a game called Jrump created by four Kiwis. The game is typical Kiwi – poking fun at the world in general but of course Trump in particular. I was terrible at the game so lost quickly, but the gist of it is that you build walls for Trump to jump on while trying to avoid Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton. If you fall then you are ridiculed and called names. The tag line of the game? “Donald Trump has Destroyed Earth and There is Hell Toupee”.
Yes, terrible I know.