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America First, an Outside Look In

Havana Frakes, Contributing Writer

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I find myself conflicted over the state of politics in America.

Now that the election has ended, I was curious to hear the perspective of teenagers living in other countries on our current political climate. So, I asked a few friends made in my years of summer camp, and a few current and past Bolles students.
Many Americans were drawn to President Trump due to his “America first” attitude. That being said, the rest of the world’s perception of America is still highly relevant to our success as a nation. Without the respect of other countries, America will suffer economically, socio-economically, and socially.
When asked what he feels is the general consensus of his country on Donald Trump as the new president of the United States of America, Sondre Wikberg,a seventeen-year-old from Norway, stated “The general opinion revolves around him being a man unfit for politics, but a master of rhetorics.” When asked what he personally felt about the new president, Wikberg responded that while Trump’s statements and decisions are not based on facts, he does believe that President Trump receives more criticism than necessary.
Julian Kamberlane, a seventeen-year-old boasting dual citizenship to both America and Switzerland, described himself as uninformed about American politics. However, when asked what the majority of people in Switzerland think about President Trump, he stated that “Most people disliked the idea of that kind of person being President.” While Kamberlane claimed that his personal opinion of America has not changed a result of this election, he said his friends’ “previous version of crazy America” grew stronger.
A teenager from China, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described his country’s biggest concern about this election to be “About the economy, the military, and the effect on the relationship between mainland China and Taiwan.” In describing why he thought Americans voted for President Trump in this election, he stated, “Americans can have more jobs or opportunities, and Hillary’s honesty is a big problem.”
Maanya Saran, currently a junior in high school living in India, also mentioned Clinton’s past as a reason why President Trump may have won. “Another reason could possibly be the actions that have been associated to Hillary in the past and that many people saw those as bigger evils than what Trump proposed.”
When asked why she felt a Trump presidency is detrimental to the U.S. as well as the rest of the world, Saran answered “He touched many cords in your country, and mine- but mine was not one of them. This is primarily because I believe that his actions and his words do nothing but spread regressiveness and negativity- we, as a world, seem to be going back to the mistakes that were made in our shared history and repeating them all over again. Not controlling firearms is one of them, serving only nationalistic interests is one of them. The U.S. is not alone in doing that.”
This raises the question, how will the Trump presidency affect the rest of the world? Is it possible that by donning a strictly “America first” attitude we will encourage the rest of the world to indulge their selfish behaviors, looking out for themselves rather than attempting to better the world as a whole? Or are we going off of the idea that by bettering ourselves, and expecting everyone else to do the same, we are bettering the world in the process? Saran’s views on the matter are clear, she believes that by spreading President Trump’s rhetoric of “regressiveness and negativity” the world will suffer as a consequence. “The globe is moving in that direction today and that’s the saddest part. I understand Trump’s motives, I completely get where he is coming from- I just don’t like it.” said Saran.
She mentioned that many Indians approve of President Trump, due to him speaking positively about India. She strongly disagreed with the vast majority of “every relevant bit of policy” touched on by President Trump throughout the past few months. However, she described the overall consensus being “ People are generally worried because a lot is unclear at this stage.”
Despite the views of some of her countrymen, Saran opposes the support of Trump in favor of a more progressive approach, “I disagree with almost everything he says and does. But, giving credit where it is due, the fact that he has won the presidency is in itself phenomenal and that cannot be brushed aside. I believe that today we must wait the next few months out and see where this change of leadership takes us. As someone who plans to study in the U.S. someday, I do hope that that is something that will not be put in jeopardy because of an action taken by him or any actions against people who share my colour.”
When asked why she thought the American people voted for President Trump, Saran answered “I think he did touch a chord somewhere. His views on Islam, Obamacare, gun control and further appealed to a chunk of the American population. He gave a voice to someone’s opinion. Most of us just did not realise just how many people those there actually were…I think people honestly wanted serious action against a lot of things he despised. And, today, it is beyond denial- he is taking action.” In her final words, Saran strikes an inevitable truth, that for good or for bad, America is in store for widespread changes, more than one can normally expect from a shift in office.
Saran, unlike Kamberlane, had her personal perception of America altered through the result of this election. When asked if her perception of America has been altered in any way by this election, she responded with this “I had always viewed your country as a very liberal one- because it is. So when that same country that I thought was very similar to my own when it came to embracing its diversity elected a man who seemed to want to do away with it, my view of America changed…I don’t know if I would feel safe anymore- the President has made some extremely sexist remarks in the past. I don’t know if I feel welcome anymore- many people who share my colour (not my religion, though) are not.”
Despite the concern and uncertainty of how the Trump presidency will affect not only America, but the rest of the world, Saran finished on a positive note. “But yet, I do understand this-your country will always be that one other place where I can speak in my mother tongue in the middle of New York and somebody would understand, the same place where you could always count on being greeted with a smile. Your President has changed; your people haven’t. We all try to remember that.”

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