I think we can all agree that this year’s presidential election was… interesting. Whether you were someone with strong opinions and very passionate about the election or you paid no attention and didn’t care either way, this election didn’t just take a front row seat in all of our lives as Americans, the rest of the world was watching intently, too. As an American in Spain, this is one of the first topics I get questions about when I meet someone because they want to hear my opinion and perspective.
Although most Europeans may think differently of Trump supporters, I think most of them realize that the United States is a vast country with widely differing opinions. Therefore, in order to not be biased or seem to pass judgement, most people start this conversation with, “So, what do you think of your president?” I don’t want to start any debates, however, so I won’t share my personal response, but from then on the conversations usually lead to talking about the major hot button topics and current events.
Other conversations people just come right out with, “How did Donald Trump manage to become the president?” Again, I won’t share my response to this question either, but ultimately this leads to me explaining what the Electoral College is. Some Europeans already know (even though some Americans do not), but most of them are very surprised by this because in the majority of countries around the world the popular vote of the People is what wins the election. The concept of an Electoral College just seems strange and that it defeats the purpose of having a popular vote.
One conversation I had with two guys I met from Ireland started on a very bad note. Instead of trying to have an intelligent conversation, they were making fun of Americans not just in regards to the election, but in other ways as well. I didn’t take a liking to this (which they could soon tell), so I voiced my frustration with them. They were generalizing all Americans under one very small-minded umbrella, which is simply not the case. Maybe they didn’t realize how close the election was or that there are two major political parties in the U.S. and not that everyone thinks the same. However, after I shared my thoughts with them, we were then able to discuss lots of issues and even share our cultural differences, so the conversation really turned itself around.
I am proud to be an American citizen, but sometimes it’s easy to feel shame when outsiders judge and generalize you based on what they see in the media (Fake news?). However, as a representative of the United States, I want to showcase the differences our country has and utilize my voice to share my perspective and thoughts. Although Europe has so many differing cultures, everyone that I have met is on the same political wavelength, which is so different in the U.S. where depending on where you are you will hear and see very different things. Spainiards are very open and upfront people, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed chatting with them as well as the other people I meet in Europe about the crazy political landscape of the United States.