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Fear and loathing in Berlin: America’s Brexit ‘left me wondering if I can even call the U.S. home’

(Editor’s note: After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we’re sampling the sentiments of expats across Europe. This opinion post does not necessarily reflect the position of Dispatches Europe management or staff. Please send your comments or submission for possible inclusion in a upcoming post to: [email protected]. Also, see Nina Avramovic Trninic’s post “Why Trump’s win could be a good thing.”)


Remember when we watched the Brexit votes coming in? Remember when we thought “Oh no, this can’t be happening! You’re shooting yourself in the foot.

“You’ll regret this.”

640x426xw6-jpg-pagespeed-ic-b6n9cyixiWe watched the Brits choose to leave the European Union as our stomachs got an uncomfortable feeling of regret and embarrassment for the UK. We wondered how a country could be so blatantly reactionary and act against its own interests.

They seemed so foolish at the time.

The same phenomenon happened Tuesday night as I watched the American election from across the Atlantic Ocean. I felt that same feeling of regret and shame and a level of terror and hopelessness, because this was my future that was being affected.

To see that the United States really is as hateful, racist, misogynistic and ignorant as the rest of the world thinks it is … this is what hurts the most.

I thought we could only move up from Barack Obama. We’d shown that the country had finally matured enough to embrace a black president, that we’d come far from the 50 or so years ago when African Americans couldn’t vote. It inspired an entire young generation who thought we might actually be able to start working together for progressive, much needed change.

For eight years we looked forward to the future, a future in which women, people of all races and classes were treated equally.

All hope for this has been dashed. Now we have a president who was endorsed by the KKK and who openly pontificates about his abilities to sexually assault women. I feel sorry that Barack Obama will have to invite Donald Trump into his White House.

All of the women I know were so inspired by Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic National Convention brought an air of hope, fervor, and progress. I finally got to see women having their day, and I was so excited.

This was all for naught though, and now I’m here in Berlin wondering if I can even call the United States “home.” The election is proof that at least half of the country isn’t who we thought they were. They hid in the shadows, telling their relatives they could never vote for Donald Trump, that they weren’t that closed minded. But here we are.

Even though I live in Berlin, I always loved the United States and considered it my home. I wasn’t very patriotic, but I was extremely grateful that I grew up in such a place, where I was given so much opportunity.

I came to Berlin because I wanted to help foster transatlantic relations, but now I completely understand if the European Union wants nothing to do with the United States. We showed our true, reactionary colors, and I’m ashamed.

If any American reading this now feels afraid in their own country, that their safety and well being have been put in jeopardy with the election of Donald Trump, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to get tips on moving abroad.

(Please send all requests to: [email protected])

I’m happy to help you because I’d never want you to be victimized by your own country. If you know your liberties and freedoms are compromised, whether you are LGBTQ, a minority, an immigrant, a woman or one of the dozens of other groups of people Trump and his supporters hate, don’t risk staying in the country that just sent the message that you don’t matter … that you’re a burden.

screenshot-2016-09-25-at-11-56-47-amAbout the author:

Jill Beytin attends the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany, pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy. She’s originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, and in her spare time, she enjoys reading, seeing live music, and cooking. See her post here on going to university in Berlin.

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