Regardless of what your political views are, I think we can all agree this this election year was tumultuous to say the least. The election became more about the morality and character of the candidates rather than their views of issues. It has been incredibly fascinating to watch from afar as all the events of the last several months have unfolded. There is something to be said about removing yourself physically from the situation to give some perspective. Living in Chile while America fought each other over key issues such as immigration, gender discrimination, racial bias, and environmental change (just to name a few) has given me such a unique perspective on how these issues really are in our country in relation to another country.
I spent the last two months introducing myself to people and hearing the same response everytime “ah la futura presidenta de los Estados Unidos!” (ah, the future president of the United States) or “ah como Hillary Clinton!” (ah, like Hillary Clinton). I seriously got one of those two responses 2/3 of the time when I would introduce myself to someone or a group of people. It really showed me just how big the United States’ influence is around the world. Most people in the US could not tell you where Chile is on the map, much less who their current president is and yet almost everyone here knows our presidential candidates, and can voice an opinion on the election. The first thing everyone here wants to talk about is politics and most people will blatantly ask you which candidate you support. In the US there is a bit of taboo on just straight out asking at the dinner table “Hey, pass the salt oh and also who are you voting for in the presidential election?” But it is the absolute opposite here. Even when I expressed that I did not care to talk about politics or the candidates, the conversation always seemed to steer back there again. During many of my conversations with people about politics here, the most common theme was how the election would affect their lives because they realize just how big of an impact the president of the United States has on their small country. Many of them voiced their concerns for the effect of the election on Chile’s economy and other political issues in their country. Our choice in candidate is a global symbol for many things to many different people in so many more countries than we could ever imagine.
In an earlier blog post, I expressed the importance of global perspective. But after experiencing an election abroad, I have an even greater appreciation for the global perspective I have gained. The United States’ impact on the rest of the world is so grand and it is was impossible for me to fathom until I had people begging and pleading for me, a 20 year old, to vote. This experience has forever changed the way I will view politics in America because the reality is that it is not just politics in America, it is politics everywhere.