Why it’s Easier to Talk to Non-Americans About the US Election

It doesn't make any sense at all looking from the outside in. All we see and hear about is a man who appears completely offensive at every level and inappropriate for office.


It’s easy to think non-Americans are not emotionally (or financially) invested in the US election but I would argue that’s not the case.

An American expat of seven consecutive years, I can only watch in horror as my fellow countrymen and women tear one another to shreds over the most controversial election in history. And guess what? The world is watching too.

For the record I moved to Australia to escape myself, not my country. I didn’t plan on marrying the love of my life and settling here (for now.)

Something feels rotten in America. During my latest visit to the homeland in June, tension was palpable. Mention the campaign or election and people would bristle, take to their corners and prepare their arsenals.

The Orlando shooting occurred while I was sleeping in my Mother’s spare bedroom. It happened at 2:30am and we didn’t hear about it on the news until about 10:30am the next day. Were we becoming so desensitised that we were blasé about ‘yet another’ mass murder? The gun debate ramped up. Again. Campaigns and supporters had more fuel.

I felt something I had never previously felt in my home country. Unsafe. I wanted to get my daughter and myself back to Australia right quick. I can’t even describe the guilt and shame associated with that thought. Shouldn’t I be in my birthplace, protesting and not running away back to my safety bubble? Perhaps that’s the ‘American’ in me- every man for himself. #imout

Back in Australia and a few months later, I’m witnessing the two most unpopular presidential candidates in history duke it out. I don’t know about you, but to me that screams SYSTEM BROKEN.

The campaign culture of ugly character assassinations has leaked onto the supporters themselves.

There are no civil discussions. Only judgement. Hate. Name-calling. Just look at my personal Facebook wall. You’ll see cruel memes and words anytime I post something remotely political: ‘Bitch, liar, pig, Hit-lary, Nazi,” I deleted some words that were even worse.

I don’t believe in washing my friendship group to include only people who think the way I do, I can handle a civil debate, but like the campaign, these inter-friendship discussions degrade into school-yard intimidation and bullying. I’ve been accused of being ignorant, disrespectful, and alienating potential customers because of my beliefs (which include standing up for women and other vulnerable people) and have been told not to comment because I don’t even live in the US. THESE PEOPLE ARE MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY. Yeah, I can’t believe it either.

The divide is deep and painful. Is it a political tactic? Maybe. But the whole thing has completely devolved into a spiteful mess. People are tearing one another down instead of focusing on the issues.

My hometown friend was visiting us in Australia a few weeks ago and she said that she thinks Trump actually has a chance at winning because enough people want to see the system burn down. Really America? Has it come to that? What else will burn down with us? Because in my experience fires are uncontrollable. And I have other news: This burning America will most certainly affect the world, it’s stability and it’s safety.

My Australian and UK friends are as concerned as I am. I poled some them, bloggers aka a thoughtful, balanced and intelligent bunch, to get their opinions which made me realize just how worried and sickened they have become.

Note: Not one of them got defensive, attacked me personally, name-called (well, okay a few called Trump names), or tore one another down. Maybe it’s because none of them support Trump. I can’t think of one non-American who does. Distance makes it easier to see the forest for the trees, apparently.

Robyna “It doesn't make any sense at all looking from the outside in. All we see and hear about is a man who appears completely offensive at every level and inappropriate for office. However, we don't live with American problems.”

Samara “When I think about it I guess I'm not really that surprised by the situation. I wonder if, for some, Hillary represents the status quo - i.e. Politics as usual, game playing, double talk and seemingly no real change for ordinary people, and Trump represents the possibility of disruption to the continual disenchantment many people have with 'the system’?”

Carolyn “I really don't understand it. Even if someone hates Hillary, how can you possibly listen to Donald and think he is a viable option? “

Amy “The thing I really don't get, is why anyone who is poor would ever think (Trump) was on their side. He is the very essence of someone who would trample on people to win. Who would say, well you aren't rich because you don't work as hard or as smart as me. Why would anyone ever think he would help them?”

Shani “I have no words.I have no idea. It scares me that so many people would take him seriously enough to vote for him.”

Collette “I fear for the future, not just for America but all of us, when someone of (Trump’s) ilk can actually be voted in to power.”

There were many more fantastic quotes and thoughts from these ladies but I had to whittle it down.

From what I can tell, the initial shock about Trump running at all is wearing off and now they are getting concerned. You can see them grappling, trying to understand, admitting they have a different point of view. Other Americans would do well to try and give each other the same courtesy. 

I kind of wish the United Nations could weigh in on the vote- obviously that is not how independent countries are governed. Maybe what I mean is that I wish America and Americans would take their heads out of the scuffle long enough to see their role and responsibility to the International community. There is carnage in this campaign’s wake and we’ll be looking at a future filled with more unless we change our strategy. Get it together America. Earth is hoping that you do.

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13 comments on “Why it’s Easier to Talk to Non-Americans About the US Election”

  1. Great post, Dawn. Yes, the world is watching and we are aghast at what is happening. I could write so much more but I just wouldn't know where to start or end. It is beyond comprehension that someone as narcisstic, exploitative, misogonystic and bigoted has been allowed to come so far and to be held up as a saviour for your country.

  2. Really well written Dawn. We all watch on with a morbid fascination - like some Disney fairytale gone wrong. Or some bad 80s sci-fi film, where you think you're watching a movie, but it's actually real! I can't imagine what it would be like to live in America right now.

    1. Thanks Collette- it really is like some ironic sci-fi tale isn't it? I cannot compare it to anything else...except maybe the rise of Hitler (and even he was more articulate)...but that's a whole different can of worms.

  3. Wow, as a fellow American in Australia, I have to say that I hadn't thought if it that way, but you're so right. Most of my political conversations (which are constant) are happening with Australians, or else with my American expat friends here, who tend to see the world through the same wide lens. I'm heartbroken for America. I can't wait for this election to be over, but I fear that, whatever the outcome, the rhetoric, disenchantment, and cruelty is long from over.

    1. I think you're correct, the pain and division will only continue after the election when one side will no doubt feel completely cheated. Who knows what will happen then...I hate to imagine.

  4. It is like watching an awful movie. I'm sad that people have been so nasty on your page Dawn. It's all really sad. You start to feel a bit hopeless.

  5. I can't imagine if this were happening in Australia. Although I think we have our own embarrassing and awful politicians here too. I am taking the "ignorance is bliss" line on this because I just can't give Trump any of my mental energy.

  6. "bloggers aka a thoughtful, balanced and intelligent bunch". You forgot to mention witty. My advice for the world: Get your marshmallows ready and enjoy the fire.

    1. They are pretty witty aren't they? Love those peeps. Re: the fire- I might need you to send me some American marshmallows, they are bigger and fluffier than Aussie ones.

  7. Wow--yeah, well said. I do tend to try not to argue with people at this point about the election (TG I'm not on FB)--it seems whichever side of the aisle you are on, no one likes the choices, which does make the system seem broken. I have some conservative friends who definitely do not want Trump, but won't vote for Clinton...which leaves them not voting. I don't think America will burn, whichever way it goes. I think it will continue to be more of the same--inaction and anger at the person in office. What we really need is term limits on Congress so they can't continue the gridlock.

let's hang on the 'gram
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