I hate saying controversial things. At all. But especially over the Internet, because there’s something so ambiguous but final about them. It’s so easy to misinterpret what someone really means. So the fact that I’m about to post something so “controversial” (to me) is kind of weird. But I feel like it has to be said.
The conversations I’ve had in the UK about the US election – okay, mainly about Donald Trump – have been, um… interesting. The few friends I have here that are also US citizens seem just as eager as me to avoid the subject, or talking about it at least. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t want to talk about that and they can sense that and respect it. Either way, we rarely talk politics, even to commiserate.
But most of the people I’ve talked to, usually at their instigation, have been UK citizens, complete outsiders to the process of a presidential election. In case you’re not aware, the British Prime Minister is elected by voting for a party. Whoever is the head of the winning party becomes Prime Minister. So elections here are less about the individuals and more about party politics (although not entirely). Their elections are very different from ours. And the people I’ve spoken to seem to think what’s going on in the US is funny.
I can’t say exactly why people find this election funny. God knows I’ve tried to laugh at it from time to time through my tears. But they seem to love bringing up Donald Trump and then chuckling softly to themselves. I can’t stress how often this happens to me AS SOON AS THEY LEARN I’M AMERICAN. As in, they’ve just met me. We establish I’m not Canadian (a common mistake). Without knowing anything about my political views or even my last name, they’re eager to bring up the fact that it looks like our president might be That One Cheeto That’s Missing Cheese Dust on Top.
There’s something incredibly smug about it. I guarantee you they would be singing a different tune if anyone remotely like Donald Trump had a chance of becoming Prime Minister, but they seem eager to laugh in the face of my (and America’s) misfortune. Like they’re saying “Americans think they’re so great with their president and their Congress and their Constitution. But it obviously doesn’t work because Donald Trump.”
I get that America is not a perfect country – no country is. And I also understand that different countries value different things, and those values shape the face of the government. What works in one country might not work in another (although basic human rights are always in style).
Come on, guys. Of course I don’t like him. I only know one person in real life who supports him, and everybody else is a friend of a friend of a friend. I only know people who “know a guy” who supports Donald Trump. It’s like his entire voting base is made up of urban legends and the smoke monster from Lost.
Unless you actually want to have a conversation about it, don’t bring it up. I don’t want to talk about it.
Here’s a little ray of sunshine at the end of this butthurt rant about Donald Trump.
People in democratic countries have an amazing right: the ability to choose who runs the government. It’s great! It’s one of the things every single person deserves, but not everyone is fortunate enough to possess. I can vote for whoever I want! It doesn’t matter if that’s Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Bruce Wayne or Jill Stein. No one can make me vote for someone I don’t like. And my vote counts.
But that doesn’t mean the person I vote for will win. It happens no matter what you believe in. At some point, your side will lose. But that isn’t the end. A country isn’t defined by its government. A country is defined by the people in it. The people are what make a country great.
So if, come November, you find your choice for president isn’t elected (or you’ve had to make the most of a bad situation) don’t despair. Your voice is still powerful. It still matters. Write to your Congressmen (and -women) about things you feel strongly about. Volunteer – at food banks, homeless shelters, animal shelters, with children. Donate money to help wounded veterans, underprivileged children, struggling single parents. There are so many ways to make the country and the world a better place, no matter who the president is. Raise your voice if the government is doing something you disagree with. No matter who’s president, you still live in a country where that’s allowed. The president doesn’t make America great; WE do.