Taking pleasure from another person's misfortune.

It's right up there on the word-a-day calendar for German terms with interesting meanings and connotations.

Kummerspeck is the German word to describe the weight a person gains while moping around eating ice cream in front of the telly after a relationship breakup. Fremdschamen is the agony of watching a show like The Office and cringing in empathetic embarassment.


Schadenfreude is not an admirable feeling. It is regularly experienced from a position of power or privilege. Schadenfreude is elitist.

And shamefully, I'll admit, I've been feeling it quite a bit.

When British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 and launched the Brexit negotiations, I was bemused to come across an interview with a pro-Brexit voter who'd since changed his mind about withdrawing from the EU.

I don't know if this guy was one of the many thousands or tens-of-thousands of poorly informed Brits to google: "What happens if we leave the EU?" on the morning after the vote, but he was dismayed to see Brexit inject new energy into the Scottish independence campaign.

Scotland voters overwhelmingly support staying in the EU, but the schadenfreude in me wants to see the Scots achieve independence and raise a finger to the south.

Similarly, if more extremely, I'm bemused by growing discontent amid Donald Trump's supporters.

The president's approval ratings languish at historic lows. His attempt at healthcare reform - repeal and replace! - ended in humiliation.

And I've been contemptibly tickled by the story of a Trump supporter in Indiana who came to regret voting for the president after her Mexican-born husband was earmarked for deportation.


Somehow, for all the campaign tough talk on illegal immigration, this woman didn't appreciate Trump's anti-Mexican promises would extend to her husband.

He runs a business, pays taxes, and has lived in the US for 19 years. The woman regrets her vote and thought Trump would only deport the bad guys.

Again, I'm not proud of enjoying these people's misfortunes. Except, I've realised it isn't schadenfreude.

Schadenfreude is the pleasure of watching people suffer bad luck. Trump and Brexit weren't luck. They resulted from democracy.

For me, it's still the race thing. For all the economic marginalisation and arguments over healthcare, so many who supported Brexit and Trump did so by condoning racial hate. I sympathise with voters in the US and UK who opposed The Don and Brexit, but the voters who supported the movements have set their own fate.

After all, when you point one finger, there are three pointing back. They had plenty of information. They had choice. They'll reap what they have sown.

• Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB Saturdays, 9am-noon