“So what do you think about Trump?” In my experience it was always one of the first questions asked by foreigners when they found out I was American. Georgians who watch the news, French, English and German travelers in SE Asia, or 14 year old kids from Lebanon who I worked with at a summer adventure camp. Everyone in the world is following this election, and it was often the first question I was asked abroad. Between kids at camp, groups of people at hostels or bars, and Georgian friends, I would estimate easily over 100 people asked me about Trump and the election before I came home. Sometimes they were interested to meet an American who supports Trump (there aren’t many of them abroad). But more often the question was framed with the background/tone of “what the heck is going on back in America?” Ever since coming back, one of the first things I try and explain to my fellow Americans is how closely the rest of the world is following this election. The position of President of the United States is still the most important job in the world- and it seems most people agree it is becoming increasingly important. Using well, logic I guess – Americans should be taking the election seriously.
I wont go down the laundry list of offensive/repulsive things Trump has said – we have all seen and heard enough of it. The question seems to be if you care or not. “I’m more concerned with what Hillary Clinton has DONE than with what Donald Trump has SAID” seems to be the go-to logic for his supporters. His populist tendencies, disastrous economic plan, and lack of foreign policy knowledge doesn’t phase people. AND THIS IS WHAT I DON’T UNDERSTAND. How can anyone who cares about our nation NOT be concerned with what he says? It doesn’t make sense, it’s offensive, and it is alarming international communities. Focusing on Clinton’s emails or some issue with the Clinton Foundation would be fine in a normal election. But this is DONALD TRUMP running against her. The argument that Clinton has done worse things turns an enormous blind eye to everything about Trump – his actions, words, and demeanor. Like focusing on a few flaws in some NBA prospect, and therefore choosing to draft some short, overweight, old guy who has never played basketball.
While I was gone, it seemed like the country I grew up in, appeared to be turning the most important job in the world into some kind of ridiculous reality TV show competition. Rhetoric from Trump at the Republican primary debates was ludicrous, yet (apparently) a large part of America felt that he was voicing their frustration as the traditional conservatives fell out of the race. I hope after this fiasco of an election- both parties can seriously re-evaluate their primary process. It has always been an incredibly flawed system, but it has never produced anything like Mr. Trump. Whether primary election reform gets rid of closed primaries, implements rank-order voting, or does away with straight-ticket voting, I think any number of reforms such as these could give the American people candidates that are more likable and respectable (but still knowledgeable).
I’m not surprised by everything about the election season I’ve come back to. Polarization is nothing new. Vicious debates are not new. Our wonderful country was founded by rebels who were scholars and statesmen, but disagreed vehemently about the best form of government. John Adams, James Madison Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson ripped each other apart in newspapers. America’s two party system has been bitter from the beginning with the pro-big government Federalists and the pro-small government Anti-Federalists. Not every Founding Father or national hero we venerate is respectable, honorable and intelligent. But at least they all have ONE of those traits. In my opinion, Trump is not respectable, honorable, OR intelligent. (Being a marketing genius, and trying to convince people that everything in the US is horrible, when droves of data exists as evidence against you is not intelligence). And yet he is one of the 2 people on the planet with a chance to become POTUS.
How we are going from a man beloved on an international stage (Obama) to having the bombastic reality TV star Donald Trump as the nominee for one of the two major parties is beyond me. (I’m not trying to champion Obama or liberal policies here, but it is a fact that Obama is generally popular around the world). People voting for Trump are apparently often doing it because they think Clinton is worse. Thankfully, I think that is finally changing – it’s too bad it required Trump’s most disgusting comments yet for folks to concede that Trump is not a realistic option to be president, but better late than never.
A bit of a side note here, but this election year has impressed upon me more than ever the importance of teachers. Before you can have an educated, healthy debate you need to have an educated, healthy electorate. Teachers have the rare opportunity to help create an electorate that is more aware and educated about the realities of politics, government, and foreign policy. Realities that far, far too many people know little about (myself included).
In Georgia, Switzerland, and abroad, I was ashamed to get asked the question about Trump. Voting is always important, but this year voting is NECESSARY. All caps required. Even if you dislike Hillary Clinton, it’s time to come to terms with either voting for a third party candidate, or just accepting the fact that Clinton is better (or less bad if you view it that way) than Trump. Even if you HATE Hillary Clinton (sexism?? not accusing- just questioning….), there is no defense in voting for Trump. I am not writing this whole thing in support of Hillary Clinton. Yes I am with her, but if I were writing a Pro-Clinton blog, I would address how I agreed with specific policies. That’s not what I wanted to do here. With my free time in Georgia I had a re-kindled interest in American History. I’m writing this blog to do my small part to make sure Donald Trump is not a bigger part of our future history books than he is already destined to be. Both parties have a lot to learn. And the primaries need fixing. Lets elect her and move forward.