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Horowitz: Trump Tanks U.S. Global Image

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Rob Horowitz

It is long past time for President Trump to take to heart the reality that when a United States President speaks-- whether he likes it or not-- it is not just for domestic consumption; the whole world is listening. Confidence in Trump to do the right thing in international affairs is a median of only a little more than 1-in-5, according to a recent poll of residents of 37 nations around the globe conducted by Pew Research Center. This contrasts to a median of more than 6-in-10 who had confidence in President Obama to do the right thing. This rejection of President Trump’s global leadership has already driven down the median favorability of the United States from 64% to 49%, according to the same survey.

The precipitous drop in confidence in the US President, accompanied by a marked decline in our nation’s image, is world-wide. “The share of the public with a positive view of the U.S. has plummeted in a diverse set of countries from Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa,” write the authors of the poll report.  The cratering confidence in the current US President is “especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada,” according to Pew.  Russia and Israel are the only two countries, out of the 37 polled, where confidence in Trump exceeded confidence in Obama.

Trump’s world-wide unpopularity is a combination of a strong distaste for his perceived personal characteristics and disagreement with his policies. Summarizing the poll results, the Pew authors write, “In the eyes of most people surveyed around world the White House’s new occupant is arrogant, intolerant and even dangerous.” Additionally, overwhelming world-wide majorities disagree with Trump policies, such as withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement and restricting travel to the United States for residents of certain Muslim majority nations.

There remains a vast reservoir of good will for the American people with most people around the world still maintaining a positive view. But Trump is quickly drawing down on that hard- won capital.  Famously quoting John Winthrop, President Reagan called the United States a ‘shining city on a hill.”  Trump is rapidly taking the “shine” off.  Despite the shoulder-shrugging defenses of his media and political allies that he just communicates “differently” and is a strong “counter-puncher”, among other threadbare excuses, President Trump’s repeated un-presidential and reflexively nasty comments and tweets are having a cumulative negative effect not only here at home, but on our image internationally.  These world-wide poll results should be a wake-up call to all in Trump-world. Unfortunately, that is more a fond wish than a real hope.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


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