I recently returned from almost three weeks in Paris and Amsterdam and had a chance to reflect on American politics from Europe and to also observe European conditions. I come away with these observations.
Increased security is noticeable in Paris due to the bombings of last year. You see armed police and military patrolling the airports as well as the streets. I didn't find these threatening but almost comforting for security reasons. I also saw many other American tourists who have not been intimidated about traveling to this beautiful city. They did not seem concerned nor did the Parisians. They are going about their lives and enjoying the cafes, sidewalk markets and wonderful bakeries, not to mention the great restaurants. We live in a world of international terrorists, but we are not succumbing to their bullying or attempts to frighten and intimidate us.
I found less evidence of overt security in Amsterdam, but the people there, including tourists, were also enjoying that beautiful city. Memorable was a visit to Anne Frank's house where she and her family hid from the occupying Nazis for two years until caught. It is a moving and powerful experience to visit the house. It leaves me with the sense that we also cannot give in to the forces of totalitarianism and mass discrimination. Clearly, there are these forces in the United States, and they are manifesting themselves in the Trump movement. Yes, they display fascistic tendencies over issues of immigration, race, gender and sexuality -- and they also have to be resisted and will be resisted.
Visit EarthBeat, NCR's new reporting project that explores the ways Catholics and other faith groups are taking action on the climate crisis.
I was not in my home state of California during the primary election, although I voted before I left. I had predicted a big Clinton victory especially due to the Latino vote, and I was not disappointed. I am more and more convinced that Latinos and African Americans will save us from Trumpism. Their votes will turn the tide in the key swing states of Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado and Nevada, and that's all she wrote.
This does not mean that we can sit back and be complacent. Turnout will be the difference, and everyone has to go out and vote and make sure that others do likewise. However, I predict a Clinton victory due to the difference of the minority vote, especially by Latinos. In Europe, most people are just shocked that Trump is even a major presidential candidate. They can't understand how a shallow and bigoted person like Trump has reached this position, and they are concerned. I'm concerned but I'm also confident in the firewall of the Latino and African American vote to prevent the unimaginable.
We come back after the Orlando tragedy, the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union, and the new terrorist bombing at the Istanbul airport -- but we are not intimidated. We will return to Paris and other places in Europe in the future. We have to be strong and not allow fanatics and bullies to take over. I believe we will be strong and will prevail. It's good to be home.