Where can one get an honest appraisal on the upcoming presidential election and the related primary chaos? Not many places, it turns out.
Tired of getting doublespeak from people in the U.S., apparently too embarrassed to be honest about their voting intentions, I went in search of an honest discourse on the future of our country.
I found it, albeit after some real digging in some unsavory places. The brilliance of this idea wasn’t immediately apparent, as my life soon devolved into a week-long orgy of decadence. I nearly lost the whole point of this journey in the midst of it, but with good reason.
After insulting no less than 75 people, including a red-faced, middle-aged TSA agent at the Portland Airport by unleashing a barrage of blatant truthbombs at strangers that would have made King Salman blush, and after very nearly re-enacting Midnight Express in Istanbul after some questionable life decisions, and after palling around Dubai in the midst of a Russian oligarch’s entourage, I found honesty.
No, not in any of those places. I found a lot of strange shit there, but not the truth. No, I found the truth. The last bastion of honesty is Sri Lanka. This is Trump Country.
One would be hard pressed to find a more idyllic locale than here in the walled city of Tangalle, blissfully lying along the sun-soaked shores of southern Sri Lanka; miles upon miles of brilliant, unspoiled beaches of golden sand, lapped incessantly by the intoxicatingly azure seas of the Indian Ocean teeming with wildlife.
Not the sea, no, the town. Yes, they love walls here. And they love the guy who’s proposing to build one hell of a big wall along the Mexican border. Strange, I know. I thought the same thing, and I didn’t really know what to make of it at first. What, with all the outrage over Trump boiling over in the states, and his comments about various peoples that have caused so many people to go apeshit, I expected to run into some hostility about the real estate mogul/GOP frontrunner. But it is quite the opposite.
In fact, people here seem to be more in tune with what’s going on in the U.S. political scene than actual Americans.
Take Roy (there’s always a Roy somewhere, I swear), a retired local school principal. He lives in a tidy little house a block from the beach surrounded by a wall.
“Yes,” he told me, “I love the wall, it keeps problems out.” His wall is a six-foot-tall work of art adorned by shiny shards of broken bottles.
He was quick to point out, however, as he was chasing a troupe of nearly 20 monkeys off his roof with a broom, that though the wall helps, it doesn’t fix everything.
“These fucking monkeys still get in and eat all my mangoes and ruin the tiles, and a few nights ago, some (assholes) shot fireworks at me from across the street. I was nearly killed.”
Still he loves his wall. “It really does help. It keeps out salesmen and drunken Russians.”
When asked about Trump, his eyes lit up. “He wants to build the wall, yes?” he asked me.
When I told him yes, the old bald man who previously seemed to have some sort of a permascowl had a large grin missing about half its teeth grow across his face. “Yes, yes,” he nodded. “He is crazy, but he has many good ideas. Like the wall.”
“Here in Sri Lanka,” he continued, “we all have walls.” He pointed down the street which was lined with a beautiful variety of walls from the mundane to highly decorated. “The U.S. should have walls, too.”
And this is far from an isolated case. In an era where everything is accessible everywhere (except the U.S.), people here follow American politics like a cricket game, and they love Trump.
“He is a great businessman; he makes deals, such great deals,” said Kushan, a local artisan. “He will make America great again, I have heard.”
A local restaurant owner who did not want to be named stood next to me, and in between drags of a Dunhill he “borrowed” from me, told me he was fascinated by it all. Mostly, the wall.
“The wall is such a great idea, and if his neighbor pays for it, even better deal,” he excitedly told me. “Trump, he makes deals. I wish I could make deals like that. I’d love neighbor to pay for wall.”
As the sun sets across the sky it is brutally clear that if the Sri Lankan primaries were held today, Trump would win in a landslide.