What do Foreigners Think of the U.S. Election?
Diether Llaneza and Henry Stone reached out to our direct neighbors as well as Europeans and Asians, and found some surprising answers.
Outside Looking In by Diether Llaneza
With fewer than two weeks left before election day, the world has its eyes on the United States, waiting. President Donald Trump, who is hoping for his re-election, in particular obsesses people around the globe. His various controversies, from the trade war with China, his withdrawal from the WHO and Paris Agreement, to persistent accusations of Russia colluding with his campaign, means that something new always seems to surface and pique the interests of those abroad.
“I believe that Trump sees for the safety and well-being of Americans,” said Nancy Anguiano from her own viewpoint in Mexico. When asked about the U.S. election, Analy Anguiano, her cousin, had little familiarity with the subject.
“I have seen very little of the candidates,” she said. “I know that Trump is trying to be re-elected but I think the country needs another change, hopefully one that will help the immigrants that want a better life.”
Trump has issued multiple executive orders on border security and asylum-seekers. Besides constructing parts of a border wall, he has also opened new detention centers, limited access to asylum, separated immigrant children from their parents, expanded the priority list of deporting non-U.S. citizens, and increased the number of ICE agents.
President Trump portrayed in a meme looking at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rather Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We hope he doesn’t get elected again,” said Sean Culliton, a citizen of Canada. “I’d rather see a better candidate on the Republican side. It’s like having a reality TV show producer running the [United States].”
“It is having a reality TV show producer running their country,” said Jody Spedaliere, also a Canadian citizen. “You have a bunch of people [in Canada] that think he’s nuts. There are some people that like him up here, but for those people, we can’t believe they support him.”
When asked about the U.S. 2020 Election, Spedaliere also said she doesn’t know if it’s going to be fair.
Canada is quite different in terms of election organization than the U.S., as it’s both a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy.
“We don’t have electoral votes in Canada,” said Culliton. “You just vote for your candidate and then the party with the most elected members in the [House of Commons] has their leader become the prime minister.”
“I wish there was an opportunity to elect someone that leads the whole country rather than just one party or one half of the country,” said Spedaliere.
President Trump paying respects in Croatia
The Balkans Region
Leonidas N., a Greek university student, and Ivo D., a Croatian high school student, began following American politics in 2016, a result of the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
“Trump shook not just the USA with his appearance, but the entire world. Since then, I’ve been following American politics as much as Greek,” said Leonidas.
The election ignited their interest in politics, as both Croatia and Greece are plagued with what they call political apathy.
Ivo stated that, following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Croatian politics built itself on enduring corruption. According to Ivo, a popular saying about politics in Croatia is “oboje kradu, samo je pitanje koji krade manje”, which translates to “both parties are corrupt. It’s only a question which will be less corrupt.”
Leonidas said that “especially after the financial crisis in 2008, the trust in politicians has dropped immensely.”
Both of their countries’ political spectrum leans more left than America’s, with the Democratic Party closer to the European right wing, according to Ivo and Leonidas.
When asked who they thought would win the U.S. presidential election, Ivo and Leonidas came to different conclusions.
Ivo believed Biden would win the election. “The race has shaped to be a referendum on Trump, who has butchered the COVID crisis and has not done much to help economic recovery,” he said.
Leonidas asserted otherwise. “To be frank, I imagine the Republicans winning in a similar fashion to 2016. Though, a Democrat victory is certainly a plausible scenario.”
President Trump comically portrayed on the cover of a Japanese manga.
“About the U.S. election, I like how the majority of people here are encouraged to have an open voice and opinions about the presidential election, even normal elections,” said Rena Shimizu. “I honestly do not even know or heard if any of my friends in Japan went to elections. Not even having some opinions about the president or other governors. But [in the U.S.], many people care about it (as it should be), and I really like how we are able to talk about and know about others’ opinions.”
Shimizu is a student at UNR who came to the U.S. from Japan in 2017. When asked about President Trump, she found herself very confused and disappointed in him.
“I genuinely want to know why exactly people support him because I cannot see any positive things he has as president,” Shimizu said. “I believe he is one of the biggest reasons all the racism and white supremacy in the U.S. has been more active and visible than before.”
In July, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a law that prevented new international students from coming to the U.S. that planned to enroll in institutions that were fully online.
“I feel very uncomfortable being in the U.S., especially, this summer when [Trump’s Administration] made [that] law,” said Shimizu.
ICE’s law scared many international students because many universities, like UNR, did not release whether they would be fully online or listed as a hybrid of online and in-person, which allowed new international students to enroll. Later in the month, ICE announced that international students that were still in the U.S. and applied for visas would be exempt.
“I was supposed to be with my family this summer, but because of this, I couldn’t go back home and it gave me so much stress.” said Shimizu.
“Wow, what a dumbs****” the caption on the bottom right reads.
“I can tell you that it is hard for French people to understand American elections,” said an anonymous source from France. “We are a very centralized country so for us federalism is very hard to grasp.”
The anonymous source studied political science but only really grasped American federalism once they lived in the United States.
“The American elections system seems a bit outdated to most of us, especially the indirect election,” they said. “We don’t understand how one can become President without winning the popular vote. Also one major difference I would say is that we are more focused on ideas when American leadership is more important than ideas.”
Since the campaigning process for the U.S. 2016 Election, both the French and German media reported on the current U.S. President’s repeated “lies, failures, [and] shortcomings”. According to Pew Research, people in Europe show the greatest opposition to political bias in their news, including 89% in Spain and 88% in Greece who think this is unacceptable.
“So many French people believe it is impossible that he gets reelected,” said the anonymous source. “But they do not understand that in America some TV outlets are very biased and American voters may not have access to unbiased information. [It’s] on both sides, actually.”
Amid freedom of speech conversations in the United States, comparisons are made in Germany.
“Most Germans can’t believe why there’s no younger candidate in the elections,” said Marius Goetz, a German citizen. “Everyone was shocked or laughed about how a country can vote for someone like Trump without any experience and [with his personality]. [They’re] laughing about him and can’t take him seriously.”
According to Pew Research in 2015, both the U.S. and Germany see each other as a strong ally. Despite this, Americans want Germany to play a more active military role in the world, but Germans disagree. Nearly half (47%) of Americans say that the Holocaust and World War II, major events from more than seven decades ago, are still the most important in the current U.S.-German relationship.
“If he would be president in Germany, he would have to leave the office after two weeks because of his actions and statements,” said Goetz.