By: Saher Kapadia
No matter the differing age, race, nationality, religious identity, sexuality people possess, the American presidential election is capable of captivating the minds (and at times hearts) of all. Some may attribute this 'majestic' quality to the thematics and grandeur off the presidential campaigns - after all the intent of these campaigns is to grab the attention of individuals. However, the truth is, America is a powerful country therefore their political, economic, military, social reach etc garners intrinsic attention from individuals.
The 2020 American presidential election was no exception to this.
American celebrities to average citizens have been very vocal on the news and on several social media sites regarding their sentiments. However, I wondered if non-Americans held the same passion or even cared about the election? Could they grasp the severity of the election? Because a surface level analysis of the significance of elections would lead many to conclude that the elections of a president in another country should not matter. This is due to the common belief that an individual's rights, freedom and liberty should not be affected by decisions made by presidents in other countries. However, globalization has made the world more interconnected than ever which means the decisions made in one country can (and mostly does) affect citizens in other countries. Donald Trump's 2017 muslim ban left an impact on individuals like Rand Mubarak. The Washington Post reports:
Think about Rand Mubarak, an Iraqi refugee whose father worked as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq. Their family had fled their homeland to Egypt following death threats and believed they were in line to relocate to the United States given her father’s service. But by 2017, their hopes took a severe blow after Trump announced his ban and slowed refugee resettlement to a standstill. Mubarak’s father developed a heart condition that required specialized treatment in a U.S. hospital, my colleagues reported. But no special dispensation came, and her father died last year.
The tragic story of Rand Mubarak and several others highlight that a decision made in one country can affect the life of an individual. Thus, I asked my non-American to share their views on what the 2020 presidential election meant to them.
Individual X, equated the election to a football match. X, shared the same thrill watching her favorite player score a goal, to seeing her favorite candidate have their electoral votes rise. Personally, I did find the restlessness waiting for states like Nevada to finish counting the votes was similar to the restlessness waiting for my favorite team to score. In fact many people have shared the view that politics is like a football match. For example, American singer and songwriter Taylor Swift alluded to the elections being a tumultuous high school football match in her song "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince". Ultimately, for individual X and others the election served to provide an adrenaline rush and was simply an 'event' worth watching because everyone was watching it.
Individual Y, on the other hand, watched the election purely to engage with and understand the memes and commentary which arise with every election cycle. To be honest, I am guilty of spending countless hours on twitter scrolling through the hilarious election related tweets. Memes and tweets are two displays of communication that have taken this and the next generation by storm. They not only highlight the absurd conduct of candidates but also the impact policy proposals can have on the rest of the world. For example, Joe Biden's pledge to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement would significantly help the world's efforts in controlling and mitigating the negative affects of climate change. At length for individual Y, the election was a humorous time period and the memes were what grabbed his attention.
Individual Z, viewed the election with a much greater importance than the individuals previously mentioned. This is because the next US president would have a significant impact on his country’s economy, political stability, sovereignty and so on. Therefore, he was against Donald Trump’s re-election because Trump’s foreign policy stances proved to be disastrous to his nation. Yet, as a non-American his impact on the elections could only be through sharing his opinions online. For individual Z, America's potential impact on his nation led to him holding a more personal connection to the election.
Personally, I found my interest in the election rooted in me being a politics student which requires me to be informed in such matters but also because my timeline was flooded with the news of the election. Overall, I find that despite the thrill, comedy, personal connections or curiosity one may have towards American politics. Non-Americans will always be interested in American politics due to the power it possess and it being the 'leader' of the Liberal International Order. Additionally, America's foreign policies create a huge impact and the uncertainty of the consequences is why American elections to us, non-Americans, matter.
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