BERLIN — America decided and the world made it clear Wednesday that the decision was the wrong one.
Donald Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as an underdog. His victory over Hillary Clinton means that from a global perspective, the worst fears of this contentious U.S. election may stand a chance of being realized.
"After Brexit and this election, anything is now possible. A world is crumbling before our eyes. Vertigo," France's ambassador to the U.S. Gerard Araud tweeted as it became clear that the billionaire businessman would win the presidency.
Araud's reference to Britain's exit from the European Union — Brexit — was a nod to another vote, also fought on a populist battlefield that laid bare strong feelings about immigration, trade and identity, that confounded expectations.
"It's not just about him. It's about who he will, and has, emboldened," said Samantha Shannon, a popular British writer. "Everything about this feels identical to Brexit."
Trump has touted a vision of American foreign policy that would represent a fundamental break with decades of received diplomatic wisdom, including making U.S. military support for NATO, a cornerstone of global security since World War II, conditional on the financial support of the alliance's members.
His behavior during the before and during campaign— in his speeches, statements and rants on Twitter at 3 a.m. — personify a raft of negative stereotypes about American behavior and character: brash, impulsive, racist, arrogant, obsessed with wealth, lacking respect and understanding for the wider world.
Chinese state media were quick to cast the election as the embodiment of America’s democracy in crisis in contrast to China’s perceived stability under authoritarian rule. "The majority of Americans are rebelling against the U.S.’s political class and financial elites," the official Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily said in a commentary.
In Russia, where the government has been accused by U.S. intelligence officials of trying to meddle in the election by unleashing cyber-mischief and peddling conspiracy theories about voter fraud and other democracy-thwarting measures, Muscovite Alexei Anatsky, who works in the IT industry, said "real life is turning out far less funny than it seemed a while ago. We had an idea of how people think in New York and San Francisco now we are seeing how more than half of the country thinks."
Global markets also expressed shock at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Dow stock futures on Wall Street plunged more than 4% and in Tokyo Japan’s major Nikkei index nosedived 6.1%, its largest drop in years. The Mexican peso started plunging as soon as it became clear that Trump had won Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. The central bank had called a Trump win a possible “hurricane” for the peso and created a contingency plan to respond.
"I never thought the American people would vote for someone who is … anti-everyone," said Jennifer Long, a teacher from Kansas who had gathered at a restaurant in Mexico City late Tuesday for what she hoped would be a celebration of a Clinton victory. Trump has called Mexican migrants "rapists" and criminals and vowed to build a border wall.
"The entire country is shocked,” said Esteban Illades, editor of the Mexican magazine Nexos.