An International Student's Perspective on the Election
As I am writing this, Donald Trump is now the President-elect of the United States. Until now, I realized I never cared so strongly about an American election, but unlike most of the Skidmore student body, I am an international student. I cannot participate in this country’s politics, but that does not stop me from caring about the country I am studying in.
When it comes to education, many countries hold the U.S. in high esteem. Many international students attend school in this country, seeking the best possible education they can get. I can say that I have grown to like America for its independent spirit and friendly atmosphere.
The U.S. elections have added a surprise to my experience in the U.S. In 2012, the only educational exposure to the elections was my AP U.S. History teacher’s use of Obama’s and Romney’s policies to show how the values of the founding live on, though they may manifest themselves differently. Now that I am here at Skidmore for the 2016 election, the politics of the election constantly reemerge in daily conversation and in the classroom.
Sadly, this election has frequently shown America’s dark side. In a country that prides itself on being home to many ethnicities and cultures, hatred and discrimination has surfaced yet again. In fact, one thing that made me pay more attention than usual to another country’s election is when Donald Trump associated Mexicans with drugs, rape, and crime.
I may not be a Latina, but that comment made me realize something: if a presidential candidate of an election for one of the most powerful countries in the world can say something like that, then who knows who he will target next? Sure enough, he made comments about women and China, and then he made comments about Muslims.
Whether it was claiming that Muslims were cheering after 9/11, or calling for a complete ban on Muslim entry to the U.S., Trump’s comments made me feel like America, a country with a history of immigration and diversity, has turned into a country of hate. Some may argue, “I’m not a Muslim, how will this affect me?” In principle, such a policy would portray America as an unwelcoming country. If Muslims were banned from entering the US, who knows who will be next?
Then there is Hillary Clinton. As a former Secretary of State, she seems to be the most experienced candidate for the job. Unfortunately the topic of her emails has come up, portraying her as someone who could potentially jeopardize U.S. security. Because of this, a friend of mine has called this election a choice between the lesser of two evils. The fact that two major candidates are heavily disliked shows how polarized this country has become.
The fact that the question, “Who did you vote for?” just shows how divisive politics is. Several of my friends refused to reveal whom they voted for because this is, according to one friend, less of a political question and more of a moral question. It seems like voting for Trump automatically makes you a bad person because of his racist and sexist views. But at the same time, some of Trump’s supporters feel left behind. Policies have been made with good intentions, but not everyone’s lives have benefited. It is only natural for people to vote for whomever they feel is the best is for the job.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In May of this year, my home country, the Philippines, elected Rodrigo Duterte, a man with a crude tongue and a questionable human rights record, as President. Although my homeland is not a powerful nation like the U.S., people voted for him because they felt that the last president failed to uphold his promises to the people. I may disagree with his policies, but voicing my opinions would lead to automatic criticism, similar to what is happening right now.
I completely understand that we may not like the results of the election. It would be easy to criticize Trump supporters, but that is not political discourse. Putting down someone’s political voice is not democracy. We, as a people, have to understand that not everyone will agree with our views and by discussing them, we can hopefully understand why we think that way and use what we have learned to improve our understanding. If we do not want another Trump in power, then it is crucial to consider the perspectives of those who voted.