El Pato Donald

The first time I ever saw The Simpsons, I was in Spain and it was dubbed in Spanish. The Simpsons is one of the most popular shows in Spain among viewers of all ages, and is on every day from 2-3 p.m. (lunchtime) on Antena 3, one of the main channels. As an English teacher living in Southern Spain, this means I’m asked to explain a whole lot of things that happen on The Simpsons. This includes the election of Donald Trump, which was predicted by the show way back in 2000 (Season 11, Episode 17, “Bart to the Future”).

I’ve been talking about El Pato Donald (Donald Duck, a popular Spanish nickname for the President) in my classes for a long time now. I had a running joke this summer with one of my advanced groups. Somehow in our Friday conversation classes, Donald Trump would always come up – no matter what topic we started out with.

On November 8th, my students of all ages offered me their confident predictions. “Hillary’s going to win, isn’t she, seño?” At 2 p.m. the news coverage was already nearly 100% about the US elections – correspondents reporting from Washington, Spanish commentators providing their analysis, and video of Clinton and Trump voting. That night, I had originally planned to watch the live results roll in on Spanish TV, but decided that I couldn’t bear the stress. In a cruel turn of events, when I got up at 7 a.m. Spanish time (1 a.m. EST), the election was just about to be called. I was finishing breakfast as the Spanish commentators announced Pennsylvania for Trump and sealed the deal.

I live in a small town in a rural area, where most people earn their money farming and raising livestock. Yet as opposed to the US, rural, agricultural Spain leans strongly to the left, nearly always voting for the Spanish socialist party. My students as a whole are quite liberal, and don’t particularly care for the current conservative Spanish president (though even the Spanish right is generally to the left of the Democratic party). This is also a country that spent the better part of 2016 without a president, because after two elections, no one had won an absolute majority, and thus no one could govern. It was only the threat of a third election (and on Christmas, no less!) that made a difference in the negotiations.

Remarkably, none of my students seemed particularly surprised to hear that while Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote, Donald Trump would become president. Once I explain the Electoral College to them, most just shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, that’s politics for you.” There is a general apathy and distrust for politicians among Spaniards (at least here where I live) that gets applied to politics all around the world.

My teenagers, probably those who interact most with English-language content on the internet, show me parody videos of the election and the candidates that they find online. There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there, and it catches their attention. When we watched Trump’s victory speech and Clinton’s concession speech in class, they understood Clinton’s accent better, and spent most of Trump’s speech giggling as they watched poor Baron fall asleep. But even they noticed the clear semantic differences between the two speeches.

My younger students have taken to repeating the chorus of a song by a popular Spanish comedy duo, Los Morancos. In the song, one of the Morancos, playing a madre Latina, takes off her slipper and repeatedly spanks Donald Trump (played by the other Moranco), singing “Trump-Trump-Trump”, which sounds like “Thump-Thump-Thump”. The kids have picked up on it, and I often catch them humming it or singing it, and they particularly delight in wagging their fingers and singing “Trump-Trump-Trump” when another student misbehaves.

The day after the US elections, Antena 3 replayed the “Bart to the Future” episode. This time I paused to watch it all the way through. The main plot line in this episode? Lisa becomes the first female president of the United States.


Lucy McAuliffe ’12 is an English teacher living in Villanueva de Córdoba, Spain, where she owns and runs a small language school. In her (limited) free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and organizing.

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