Opinion: Oh America what has happened to you? The Trump/Biden Brawl Says It All

Published on October 2, 2020

The final straw for me was when my 11 year old asked “I wonder how much he spent on his spray tans?”

This week’s debate between President Trump and Joe Biden brought to the fore a great sadness that I have been carrying in my heart. I concluded that my heart is a little bit broken as my love for America (which has for sure been nipped at over the last few years) feels like it has been extinguished. Just like a wet pinch on the wick of a lit candle, the debate between what should be America’s finest statesmen descended into what can only be sadly described as a petty brawl.

I don’t write this from a perspective of party politics. As a proud Brit, God knows we don’t have much to be proud of with our own blustering blonde buffoon killing it on the world stage. I write this purely from the perspective of shattered perception, crushed childhood dreams, and the great hope that we once had in the “special relationship” with America, the leader of the free world.

When I was growing up I desperately wished I lived in America – this massive, stunningly diverse, challenging and beautiful continent. A place where your dreams could come true if you worked hard enough. America was full of youthful enthusiasm and arrogance. Everywhere you looked you saw growth and change, resilience and opportunity. You saw success and evolution. Great people just kept coming from politicians to Hollywood stars: Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, Sylvester Stallone. The TV programs that came from across the Atlantic were rich fantasies like Dallas and Dynasty, or fantastic comedies like Seinfeld, Friends, and Cheers. Our perceptions in the UK were shaped by these outputs. As I grew up my definition of success was to live and work in America.

I duly went to university, got my degree, and got myself into a job where I could travel to and work in America. My first serious boyfriend, James, and I spent years entering the green card lottery hoping to get our golden ticket to the USA. Separately we achieved our dreams: I worked for a large PR firm headquartered in New York. James went on to achieve amazing success in Silicon Valley.

But my love affair with the US has dwindled over the last few years: Since Trump’s election the silver lining has become tarnished and, rather like the man himself, America seems corpulent, yellowing with age, and lacking in intelligence, empathy, style or substance. In fact it’s going backwards.

The final straw for me was when my 11 year old said “Blimey mama, President Trump spent $70,000 on his hair – I wonder how much he spent on his spray tans?” When I was his age, the last thing on my mind would be how much a President spent on his personal grooming.  Jimmy Carter was President and then it was Ronald Reagan and both, despite political criticism, were wonderful statesmen who represented the USA well and upheld “the dream”. Being the President then meant something. Now it just looks from here as if the election is all part of some grim reality show.

You may say that I am highlighting the superficial, that both Trump and Biden have amazing things to offer and I am forgetting all the good things that America has to offer. But I believe perception is all. Reputation is everything and that is held up by the feelings that people have about you as a person or the brand of your company, product, or indeed country. How people feel is so important. Their perception of you or your brand is what brings people to you and holds them with you. Trump, Biden et al have created a new international perception of the USA, and it’s not a good one. My relationship with America recently has been that of a Tom Cruise meme – clinging on for dear life – but now I’m letting go. I just can’t….

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Jacki Vause pioneered women into tech. She has been in the industry for decades, won awards and got all the t-shirts. Being a woman in Tech was never a barrier. Jacki has vast experience as a proven tech entrepreneur, business leader, mentor and single mother. In her career she has seen it all: she has flown high in First, crashed and burned, worked for nothing and phoenixed from the ashes to run some of the most successful companies. Jacki has been leading Dimoso, a specialist tech PR agency, for the last 9 years working with leading entertainment properties such as BBC, Disney, Harry Potter, Angry Birds and well known consumer tech brands such as Dominos, Mazuma, Panasonic, GE and Apple.

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