By Nick Sustana
It seems that every election year, conservatives start fretting over Democrats who want to turn the United States into some left-wing European hellhole. Vote Democrat, they say, and your entire paycheck will be deposited directly into your useless neighbor’s bank account, you’ll have to wait eight months to buy a Band-Aid, and you’ll be forced to spend your weekends riding bicycles alongside canals instead of stockpiling ammunition in your doomsday bunkers.
Extra fuel was added to the fire this year when Bernie Sanders, an honest-to-god, real life socialist, snuck into the race. His love affair with Scandinavian countries in particular runs so deep he’s almost guaranteed to redecorate the entire White House with IKEA furniture (and probably spend his first 100 days in office trying to assemble it).
But I’ve been living in Spain and traipsing all over the rest of Europe for the last 18 months, and it seems to me that neither Sanders nor Hillary is the candidate most determined to turn the United States into Europe. The candidate who really seems obsessed with Europe is Donald Trump. And unfortunately, the Europe he’s obsessed with is the medieval one.
Take a look at his policy towards Muslims. (I use the term ‘policy’ loosely. Trump has a ‘policy’ on Muslims the way cats have a ‘policy’ on baby birds.) As has been well documented, Trump sees all Muslims as huge threats. They must therefore be kept out (and possibly even thrown out) of the country. But using Muslims as hajib-draped punching bags isn’t exactly fresh thinking in these parts. In fact, we even have a name for that policy here in Spain. We call it “The Spanish Inquisition.”
In 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, Spain began cracking heads both Muslim and Jew. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella forced people to convert to Christianity or get kicked out of the country. They claimed to be doing it to help preserve the church, which was a wise move on their part. Couching the whole thing under the guise of religion gave the forced conversions and expulsions a little more solemnity and sophistication.
Of course, neither of those things is exactly Trump’s strong suit. Though Trump shares the same ethnocentric sentiments as Ferdinand and Isabella, he wants to give Muslims the boot for much simpler reasons, namely that he’s a bully and a fear-mongering asshole. You play to your audience, I suppose.
When it comes to the rest of his national defense strategy, Trump openly brags about stealing one of medieval Europe’s most popular pastimes: torturing the shit out of people. Putting some lowly peasant on the rack and tearing his arms out of their sockets is practically as European as mom and tarte tatin. In Trump’s defense, he does say he wants to move beyond mere waterboarding (also a European invention,) so I at least give him credit for trying to make Americans the best damn torturers the world has ever seen.
Even the very foundation of Trump’s whole ridiculous campaign, the match that lit his first flaming arrow of stupidity, is copped straight from Old Europe. The Donald wants to barricade the country behind The Greatest Wall You’ve Ever Seen in Your Life™. But half the cities over here were at one time or another completely surrounded by giant walls. It made sense one thousand years ago when marauding armies roamed the countryside burning entire cities to the ground. But what exactly is a wall going to protect people from in the United States? Cheap labor and stiff margaritas?
I will say this as far as walls go: If you are completely convinced that illegal immigrants coming across the southern border will destroy the nation, you should definitely build a wall. They are amazingly effective. I’ve been to walled cities in Spain, France, Italy and Croatia, and during all those visits I’ve only encountered two Mexicans, neither of whom raped or murdered me as far as I can tell.
Given Trump’s old, old school leanings, what else do we have to look forward to? Jousting lances on F-35 nose cones? Writing off climate change as just an anomaly in the sun’s orbit around the earth? Concealed catapult permits?
So brace yourself, America. You’re going to get a lot more Europe-y one way or another come this November. It’ll either be the leftwing “gimme all your paycheck” Europe or the rightwing “throw another heretic on the fire” Europe.
There is, however, one small part of modern-day Europe that Trump may embrace, too.
Donald Trump, the man whose domestic policy seems to be modeled after the Crusades and whose foreign policy seems drawn from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, has occasionally shown support for some kind of government involvement in healthcare. And this might actually be the scariest thing of all. Suppose your appendix ruptures a month after the election. Do you really want your emergency appendectomy performed in an operating room from the twelfth century?
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