As much as it pains me to admit it, the United States is a world leader. The power this country exerts not only in wealth, the armed forces, or its politics demands presence on the world stage that cannot be ignored. It’s really a shame that for as much publicity as the U.S. takes up in foreign media coverage, Americans are kept in the dark about foreign affairs that perhaps do not directly affect them but are momentous accomplishments or atrocities for other nations. Their government may not change our daily lives but our actions have the means to greatly impact theirs.
When Barack Obama was elected into office the United States had a revolutionary moment in history. Internationally there was a celebration in developed countries that the United States was about to take a stance towards reform on all accounts signified with the administration of the first black President. The tumultuous presidency of George W. Bush was bewildering and the United States still has not fully recuperated from those eight long years. Friends abroad described him as father-like: the father who is laughed at social gatherings, embarrasses you any chance he can get, and assures that he knows best when he doesn’t have an idea what the best course of action is. Watching the first African American in office was thrilling as was watching how conservative Republicans would react to his tenure in return.
Obama’s presidency has been so progressive that up until now the fact that the American public elected him to stand as their representative made me proud of the country where I was born. When the 2012 presidential election was broadcast live at an open pub at 2 a.m., I swore if Mitt Romney took office that I would go out back and burn my passport in rebellion. I never had to, but the fact that the race ran that close up until the last moment was indication enough that it was not safe to trust the average American to make sound judgments or choices for the nation. The whole world watched as Obama took affirmative action against sexism, racism, implemented a revolutionary healthcare initiative and grieved with millions when he was frustrated past the point of words that the public had still not found common ground when it came to the right to bear arms as tragedy repeatedly took lives. He made everyone believe that with his inauguration change was possible and with every turn he kept eyes on reform while the world waited for civilians reaction to his ideologies. Obama wanted to use his term in office to enact the policies he had promised, even when faced against resistance from Congress, and grounded his politics in approaching all Americans under the same demographic: people who care about their country who need security and a leader to not only protect but defend them against adversaries to salvage their best interests.
Anyone could take a wild stab at exacting that Donald Trump has been the final nail in the coffin of taking American politics seriously. If I hadn’t felt ashamed of being an American before, I’ve been dropped into a new level of hell. Trump bombards the press as he continues to rampage with his hateful aggression while his supporters make ignorant claims to defend their vote. There can be nothing more depressing than watching stadiums fill to watch Donald Trump speak along his road to the White House. Most Americans are sure that he will not win the overall election, but have no idea how to impact a fight against even this slight possibility from becoming a reality.
The British media sufficiently broadcasts U.S. election coverage over their news channels showcasing the battle between Democrats and Republicans to ask what the hell Americans are doing with their political system. Great Britain has long been a country that prides itself on its multiculturalism, fairness and liberal attitude towards social justice. To watch Americans debate about fundamental rights like women’s reproductive care, gun control, and assisting refugees in crisis in such desperate opposition to one another squires any hope of finding a resolution that can universally be successfully embraced.
The Democratic nominees are the political party to come out mostly unscathed in the foreign press. I would have thought that Hillary Clinton would have drawn comparisons against her to Margaret Thatcher, another prominent leader of the free world, who has as deep a divide circulating about her politics as Thatcher did in her role as Prime Minister. There have been some articles circulating but for the most part, Clinton has distanced herself from having the public draw similarities between the two (which would be wholly unfair to begin with yet no one ever said the media made sexism any easier to bear). I asked what my friends knew in the UK about Bernie Sanders, a candidate who completely befuddles me in his rise to acclaim among the millennial generation. Most just had a grounded knowledge of Sanders being celebrated for being a good person; a man with a clean track record and liberal moral values. They take both candidates seriously as they monitor who will end up on the primary ballots come November.
The biggest issue at hand between the US and the UK at the moment is the Brexit vote and what it will mean for international trade agreements should the UK leave the EU. If Trump were to win the White House there’s no dispute that he would work any and every trade agreement to his personal benefit, no matter the leverage needed or which industries suffer. Of course no British citizen wants Trump in office, just like no one in their right mind wherever they come from wants to see a Donald Trump like figure head to one of the most powerful positions in the world. The end result will not just mean the breakdown of America’s Constitutional rights, but engage further despondency in struggling nations who need economic aid in order to revive their civic infrastructures.
For other countries, America is a train that at any moment could completely derail off the tracks. The United States is at the edge of self destruction-where all progress that has been made in the past eight years, even going back the last hundred years, could be reset. The saddest part of it all is that Americans don’t seem to care. Having Trump succeed this far as a candidate to represent this country is a clear indication that no one can be bothered anymore. Internationally other first world countries prepare themselves for the war America will inflict on itself, on one another before it turns to attack foreigners. When the United States engages in warfare or takes a stand on an issue other countries are known to follow suit in order to make affairs easier. Everyone wants to be on the same team—to lean on one another in times of hardship and to celebrate when we win together. However, it becomes clearer as time goes on that really American politics are really only out for themselves.