Wow, where to start....
First I'm glad you started to talk about this, this is how people from both sides can discuss these ideas and learn from each other. This needs to happen. This is why I'm glad Trump got elected, not because I support him, but because he is accelerating the US decline so quickly that people can finally see the truth, whether or not they want to. It is all about the money.
First I asked you guys where does money come from to illustrate my point that pretty much everyone fundamentally doesn't understand money. When you say "look at the 20 trillion in debt the country is drowning in...", that shows you do not understand. You need to understand. Why do you think the richest country in the world also has the most debt in the world, because that debt is actually the money that makes you rich. MONEY=DEBT.... Do you understand. The government spends all that money into the economy and businesses, employees, CEO's and shareholders all benefit. If you were able to get your debt down to 0, you would have no money, no millionaires, and no billionaires, and no economy or savings. Do you understand?!!? All politicians either don't understand or are lying to you about this. Why do you think Trump plans to expand the debt by another 9 trillion or so - because he has to, to create the 9 trillion in wealth to pass on to his wealthy friends via the government and it's contracts. YOU must open you eyes and see what is going on....if you have more questions on this ask and I'll try to answer them, it's fundamental.
Who owns the debt, take a look: https://www.thebalance.com/who-owns-the-u-s-national-debt-3306124
Why can japan have a debt to gdp of like 400%, because they owe most of the debt to themselves. Again the politicians are fear mongering and lying, the debt and the growth and size of it is not going to end the world. It is how the system is designed. I'm not saying it's right, just this is how it works and it's not a huge problem like the politicians are saying. When you see that, they you realize what mess Greece is in, they gave up their sovereign right to print money to the ECB so they actually owe it to someone else, and more importantly they cannot just print more, they have to ask the ECB to print them more and then borrow it and pay them back - they are screwed.
If you don't believe me, then you also don't believe the bank of England who explain how money works, google it and read it for yourself. For something more entertaining google the money myth with the island survivors and the banker, it's a good read.
In addition, most of that debt is owed by the US to itself since the government via the federal reserve essentially creates the money it needs to spend. It also borrows from other governments or banks if they want to buy the us debt, or the banks can just create the money from nothing to lend to the US government just as easily as you can do it for yourself. People want to be in the government so they can control government spending or pass laws that are favorable to their supporters. The idea used to be that government was to represent the interests of the people, but apparently that is passe.
The first fallacy in the normal line of thinking is that people apply economic reality that applies to themselves to the government. They believe (like I did), that the government should balance the budget, that a surplus is a good thing. They feel that any debt from today is a burden to the future generation, which is not correct. They believe that that debt must be repaid eventually, which is not just incorrect, but not possible. Picture yourself as Neo in the matrix, your mind like all of our minds are born into this train of thought because of what we see around us. This it the matrix that the world and economists have created for us, for our minds.
The reality is that governments that have their own currency, are essentially self funding, in that they can "print" as much digital currency as they need to satisfy their funding and spending. If they print too much and there isn't a requisite increase in the amount of goods and services in the economy, and they put that money in the hands of people who will spend it, you will see inflation somewhere. When you pay federal taxes to the government it is effectively destroying money. Paying back a loan destroys money. Taking out a loan creates money from nothing. As a point of fact, a government that prints its own money like the US and Canada can never go bankrupt. Their currency can become worthless but they cannot be bankrupt. The difference in what the government spends and takes in in taxes is the deficit/surplus.
When you learn how the government funds itself you learn that entitlement reform is a tool for those that have money to attempt to keep down those that do not have money. It is class warfare by the haves against the have nots. Do you really think that the wealthy care about health care? They can afford all they need so why should they let everyone else have it - that would make them less wealth? Why can the US spend all it needs on the military but not supply health care for all it's citizens? It certainly can afford to, either by reducing military spending and increasing health care spending, or simply by running a bigger budget deficit. If you say that's not acceptable, then under Bush and Obama, it certainly was acceptable to run a huge deficit to save wall street's banks. Again you must realize that this excessive spending is always possible, it just depends on who stands to benefit from it.
All of these divisive issues, and meant to do just that, divide you - republicans and democrats, black and white, immigrants and citizens, left and right, abort and anti-abortion. If you are divided, you cannot stand up together as one united people. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both the elite. They are friends. You are not in their circle, but they do take care of their friends. All that Trump is doing now is blinding us to all of the legislation they will pass, things like bank deregulation. These are regulation put in place after the last financial crisis. Taking them away will certainly help Goldman Sachs and Wall Street. Not sure how that will help the rust belt. Oh, Goldman got their guy to run as Trump's economic advisor too, good for them. More love coming to the rust belt for sure.
As a response to this "It is unclear to me how American policies can affect you in New Zealand, or matter to you at all in any way."
The US and it's military and economy have an effect on most nations on Earth. I'm not sure why you don't see what Trump is trying to do. He is continuing what Bush did, and Obama to a degree also did, remove your rights, and create an all powerful surveillance state. Snowden tried to out the government and inform the public about this. Trump is destroying the powers and people who stand against him. He called the federal judge who stayed his immigration order "this so-called judge". Wow, he should be "this so-called president". I'm sure that judge has more brains and has worked harder in his career than Trump has. Can we directly compare his experience in government with the judges judicial experience? Trump's rise is similar to the rise of a dictator, and that will always end badly for everyone. In Canada with the US as it's largest trading partner, if he takes you guys down, what do you think will happen to our economy? Of course we are concerned even though it's not our country. I absolutely will not enter the states while Trump is in power - that means tourism dollars that you will lose. Trump is presenting "America first" policy, as if America can go it alone in the world. Perhaps they can, but China with it's 1.6 billion people and India with it's 1.2 billion people will not choose that path and their businesses will thrive because of it.
You mentioned companies will not do business with you due to the privacy concerns. I read that the US government under Trump has removed any privacy protection under the law for non-citizens, so I'd say their concerns are valid. Do you see how this government will affect you? Over time (a very short time based on how Trump is going), you will see your nations allies in the world, not supporting you and that is where the dangers lie. As people say the US and it's citizens will be less safe and will create more enemies, because by definition if you piss off your friends and threaten your enemies who is left? I too have family and friends in the States and that is also part of my concern. Another part of my concern is Trumps aggression towards China. Both countries are nuclear nations, and I distinctly get the feeling that Trump isn't afraid to use nukes, I guess he thinks nuclear winter is as much a fallacy as global warming. Oh, he put Iran on notice - what is he the principal?
The sad thing is the people who voted for Trump are going to be the most hurt by him. He will cause job losses and they will feel it the hardest. This is what we know trump is - born rich and a narcissist. He is also a lying president and doesn't have any ethics, I believe because he doesn't know or understand what ethics are, or he simply doesn't care. His character traits are fact and cannot be disproven based on what he says and does.
Let me know if any of this is sinking in and makes sense, because you first have to realize that all that you learned before about money is wrong and the politicians are playing on this. At the end of the next 4 years, you can be certain Trump and his friends will be richer, the debt will be larger, and the American people will have been played, yet again. This will not change much if and when the democrats take office after 4 years, but I think the decline will slow. Sorry to be so harsh, but this is like watching your children get addicted to drugs and seeing them destroy themselves, or watching a loved one die. Sometimes you just don't know what to do, but writing this stuff is a bit like therapy.