Rejection or Connection: Western Europeans and the U.S. Election

Author: Alexandra Black, Current Events/Politics

“Where are you from?”

“America.”

“Oh okay…. So, how do you feel about Trump?”

“…So, how do you feel about Hillary?”

“…So, how do you feel about the election?”

I lived in Paris from August 17th to December 21st, 2016 and traveled to 12 other European cities outside of Paris during my time in Western Europe. No matter where I went, no matter whom I spoke to, the topic of conversation was the same: the U.S. election. For the sake of this article being purely about the election, I will not state whom I voted for, but rather focus on the feelings I encountered from our Western European brothers and sisters.

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I’m going to start off by saying something that seems obvious but still needs to be said: this election shook the world like a class 5 earthquake and affects more than just Americans.

I went to a French university with a high internationally diverse population. The courses were taught in both English and French and is well accredited, so it is a very attractive option for many international students. With that said, everyone I spoke to was very intelligent. So, I really did not mind talking about the election, since everyone had something relevant to contribute.

It became such a norm to speak about the election with my European classmates that I forgot they were not directly participating in the election.

Each person could reference articles, statistics, comparisons to their home states, etc. Only by mid-September did it hit me that the whole world was watching, not only watching, but intentionally tuning-in more intently than Big Brother.

Aspects of the election and our candidates were used as examples in every one of my classes: from Trump’s marketing tactics of placing a negative adjective before each of his competitor’s names in Influence and Marketing, to what would happen to the U.S. Dollar should one or the other be elected in Finance. Every time I passed the computer lab, non-Americans were watching CNN or MSNBC or Fox News. One Portuguese classmate talked about it in every class — he was absolutely fascinated by it, and probably knew more than most of my American classmates.

By the end of October, the election was literally everywhere. At this point, a majority of Europeans stopped asking about the election out of interest but now out of disgust or a lead in to ridicule me for the “circus,” as one referred to it, which was my country’s Presidential election. The Europeans around me were alarmed, very alarmed, specifically by Trump’s choice promises…as evidenced by the quote below courtesy of BBC News:

“Most Europeans would argue that Mr. Trump appears to have taken things down to a new level. So it is hardly surprising that opinion polls suggest that if Europeans had a vote in this election Hillary Clinton would win by a landslide… But it is the suggestion that he might be prepared to ignore Nato treaty obligations, and the overall unpredictability of his foreign policy pronouncements, that has really ruffled feathers. Hillary Clinton by contrast is a known quantity. A former secretary of state and First Lady, she is steeped in the tradition that allies in Europe form an important part of the American view of the world… But there would be far more sense of continuity in relations with Europe, and for that Europeans would be grateful. In the EU, they have enough crises to deal with already.”

Overall consensus pre-election: Hillary was safe and going to win, and Trump was either a clown or a mighty business destined to lose.

November 8, 2016: a(n) (in)famous day in history.

November 9, 2016: the day I learned to stop introducing myself as an American.

Believe it or not, it was universally understood that Hillary would win the election, no matter how you felt about it. After the election, I felt there were definitely more hateful and accusatory tones and words when strangers would find out I was American than before. It stopped being funny, and it started becoming scary at times.

When Hillary did not win, I received a lot of mixed reactions from my classmates who knew I was American. A majority of the reactions was overall confusion and/or worry of how Trump won and “what did this mean” for their country. Several Russians and Ukrainians I had met were rather pleased that Trump won. They liked Putin and they believed that Trump would whip America back into shape. The most concern came from the French, whose election was quickly approaching. Well, for those who are not a fan of the right wing, they were right to be concerned.

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On November 29, 2016, The New York Times published an article, “In Paris, Worries That Trump Will Embolden Le Pen.” Marine Le Pen, for those unfamiliar with French politics as of late, is the current candidate for the National Front party, known to be on the far right, in the running to be the next President of France. She is also the daughter or former French politician, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and was even the one to expel him from the National Front party. #fambam

Let’s list some of her promises, and see if any sound familiar, shall we?

  • “The European Union is firmly in her sights, with her reiteration to put France’s membership to the vote if elected.”
  • “…she also vows to ‘break with mass immigration’.”
  • “There’s mention of ‘reconquering’ urban no-go zones, lowering taxes and what she calls ‘economic patriotism’.”
  • “If elected president, Le Pen promises to ‘defend the rights of women, their freedoms and their dignity, put in danger by fundamental Islam.’”
    • Note: please read article for further explanation of the situations between women and male Muslim establishments in France.

It is safe to say that there are fundamental similarities to Trump and Le Pen — at least the press likes to think that way. Here is Page 1 of a New York-based Google search for “Marine Le Pen”:

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The opinions of Le Pen seem to be in line with that of the opinions of Trump when he was elected: you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. At the moment, Le Pen is second in the polls to centre-right candidate of the Republican party, Francois Fillon. He served as Prime Minister from 2007-2012 under President Nicolas Sarkozy. He has been compared to former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, for his policies on unions.

By the end of my time in Europe, the overall consensus I had collected is that Western Europeans, predominately Parisians, are restless from the U.S. Election. The impossible became possible. The world’s largest superpower was turned on its head — despite confidence in what they saw as a qualified candidate. There is an aura of hope for some, and fear for others.

Either way, European democracies saw for themselves what happened in the United States. Either way, they learned from our decision. Now it is up to them to either follow in our path or take the road with less caution tape.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog. 

White Privilege Matters

Author: Alexandra Black, Current Events/Politics

Congratulations! You have successfully clicked on another article about Black Lives Matter with a racy title.

Now whether you’re anti-Black Lives Matter movement, or you’re a radically pro-BLM activist ready to rip me a new one: pause. Before I say my piece, take about 30 seconds to think about why you feel the way you do about Black Lives Matter.

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Sigmund Freud

I’m no doctor or psychologist, but through Freud’s enlightening discoveries (as retold by Saul McLeod), we can dig into our human psyche on a basic level to reason why we think the way we do on this controversial matter.

Stage One: The Id
Your id, or the instinctual part of your personality, is only relevant to BLM in scenarios such as:

a) If a black person were to pull a gun on you right now, you would use the fight or flight response.

b) You’ve developed your own thought process, which is triggered by opinion other than your own on black lives in the U.S.

Both are based on pleasure. You may not feel pleasured having a weapon pulled on you, and you may or may not feel warm and fuzzy about the black community being represented fairly (I’ll get into that later).

Stage Two: The Ego
“The ego is that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.”-Sigmund Freud

You did it! You’ve matured enough to learn how to maneuver the real world enough to access the internet and this article.

Now the big factor: your ego. No, not what inflates your head by you thinking you’re “better” than other people. Your ego conducts deduction just enough to see a person of color and realize, “that person is different from me.”

What do you do when you encounter people of color? Do you smile at them, avoid them, offer to help them bring their groceries to their cars? These scenarios have nothing to do with what is right versus what is wrong – just that you did something and no harm came out of it.

But…what if harm does come out of it? Now you have an anxiety attack, think of 12 different scenarios and list all the people you didn’t get to say goodbye to all in the span of 30 seconds. But you get through it, and go on your merry way. This experience now gives way to your superego.

BUT WHY?

Stage Three: The Superego
“The superego incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned from one’s parents and others. It develops around ages three to five during the phallic stage of psychosexual development.” 

Yes, the young age of “playing doctor” and the Oedipus/Electra complexes. This is the point that you realize you have a penis or clitoris, and not everyone else has the same genitals as you. What? Weird and “icky,” I know. I could go into a rant about men and women, but maybe we’ll save that for another article.

So, aside from touching your “pee-pee,” you form observations from all around you. You learn from your parents, teachers, and most importantly: the media that is everywhere, even when you are five years old.

Okay, Alix, why does my psyche have to do with Black Lives Matter? You’re wasting my time.

What I’m getting at is that during your developing years, your surrounding factors set you up to be subconsciously racist.

You may now believe that a person should be judged on character and not on appearance; however, despite the morals your parents taught you, your psyche has been doomed since you were five thanks to the media’s depiction of subgroups.

ANYWAYS, HERE WE GO:

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We have grown up in a country where the media has portrayed African Americans as “thugs,” poor and unreasonably aggressive.

  • Name five movies pre-2005 where the protagonist is a rich, good-hearted African American… right. You wouldn’t, because according to the entertainment industry, “black doesn’t sell.” Unless it’s 12 Years A Slave or Straight Outta Compton, which still does not fit the previously stated criteria.
  • When was the last time you saw African Americans on the news in a positive light?
    • “Oh, well that’s because everything is Black Lives Matter now, so they’re brainwashing us to think they’re good people.” I mean Martin Luther King, Jr. was the Spawn of Satan, sent to kill off all the whites with his peaceful protests, just like MOST OF these demonstrations – some on SOCIAL MEDIA.
  • police-1567049_640“Hey, but there was a black man who shot white officers! And all of those videos on Facebook of people shooting cops.” That happened, and I will never say that Blue Lives do not matter. It should not have happened based off one man’s vengeance spree, similar to how the Pulse killing spree should not have happened. Yes, compilations constructed by the media reinforce how awful African Americans are. Not to mention that you are now ignoring the thousands of peaceful protestors who just want you to listen and be aware of what’s going on – because their people are dying and oppressed and we still cannot focus on that. 
  • Finally: why #whiteprivilegematters.
    • You have grown up, most likely, in a normal home, got a normal education and never dealt with situations such as gangs and crime-infested neighborhoods.
    • Your community is not plagued with poverty through past generations’ lack of resources.
    • Even if you are black and had a normal life, you still have to deal with that stereotype.
    • You have never been oppressed or judged just off of your appearance.
    • You do not walk down the street praying you won’t be stopped for suspicious activity past drinking alcohol or smoking weed in your neighborhood park.
    • You do not need to protest that your life is important.
    • You do not need to remind your country that you matter.
    • You do not have to wonder if you’re going to be categorized as a threat to society with each person you meet.
    • Most importantly, you have the option to say a movement about race is irrelevant.

BLM supporters just want everyone to listen, to be aware, to learn, to change the standards of acceptance. Black lives are lives. No one is trying to take anything away from anyone else.

Our generation is past the point of basic acceptance. Our phallic stage is far over and now we are producing the next generation who will be more curious and informed than we ever were. But we are the generation that demands change, so we need to be the ones to make it.

Use white privilege. Use it with every decision you make because it affects more than just you. Your one act of acceptance can ripple to others around you and the children you will raise. Black Lives Matter because your privilege can provide a better life for all.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

Why My Friend is Voting for Donald Trump

Author: Alexandra Black, Current Events/Politics

It’s time for me to explore the truth that many millennials cannot face: young people are voting for Donald Trump.

In an America where most of us grew up with Trump’s face plastered as the poster boy for “You’re Fired” rather than “Make America Great Again,” it is very puzzling to our generation both why and how he came to power. However, we cannot ignore the truth that Donald Trump is the Republican Party’s candidate for the next POTUS.

I spoke with George Washington University student, Allison Coukos — an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science and minoring in Business Administration and Communication. She is also an active participant in GW’s Greek Life and head of PR for GW College Republicans.

As off the record as I can be while still on the record, I think it is very important to read what Allison has to say. You do not need to agree, you do not need to vote for someone you do not want to, but you, as a voter and an American should have an open mind and a well-formed opinion before you head to the polls.

Q: Do you identify with a specific political party? If so, which one?
A: I identify with the Republican Party.

Q: Which values do you identify with most strongly within your party? Are there any values or aspects that you disagree with?
A: The values that I most strongly identify with are the party’s beliefs in individual liberty, the free market, a strong national defense and a limited national government. Naturally, there are aspects of the party’s platform that I disagree with, but ultimately the core values of the party override whatever peripheral disagreements I have with the party’s platform.

Q: Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again.” What aspects of his platform would you say support this call to action?
A: Trump is calling for policies that generate economic prosperity in the United States and respect in the international community. He wants to strengthen the middle class through tax relief, simplifying the tax code and through reinvigorating American business interests (by bringing jobs back home). If we can become an economically prosperous country, we can create stability both at home and abroad.

Q: As he is not a politician, Trump has been praised by many as being anti-establishment. Do you think his background in business rather than politics is what we need in a President?
A: A recent Gallup poll from June of this year found that 80% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job. I think having an outsider, or anti-establishment, candidate will bring a refreshingly new perspective to Washington.

Q: How do you think our foreign relations will change based on Trump’s foreign policy? 
A: Trump has indicated that he would be more supportive of our allies and re-evaluate our relationships with other countries. In particular, I think his pro-Israel stance is extremely important. Under Obama’s presidency we have not been a good ally to Israel. Martin Indyk, a special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during Obama’s presidency, said that President Obama distanced himself from Israel in order to gain credibility in the Arab world. It is especially important – given the current political instability there – that the United States builds a strong alliance with Israel.

Q: Trump has a very blunt attitude. He has made comments against past Republican presidents and politicians, beyond his past opponents, such as Reagan, Bush and McCain. Why do you think someone who has a history of speaking ill of people in his party is so successful?
A: A 2015 Pew Research Center poll showed that only 19% of Americans say that they trust the government in Washington. Trump taps into this frustration that people have toward the political establishment.

Q: Is your personal support based on Trump’s platform or the idea of “Never Hillary?” Why or why not?
A: It’s about supporting the policies to improve the lives of all Americans. Unless there is a Republican in the Oval Office, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Congress will not be able to pass the legislation needed to bring prosperity and security back to American citizens. Such legislation includes a system that increases upward mobility through reforming our current welfare system with poverty-fighting programs that are tailored to individual needs. Ryan also wants to create economic reform that increases the transparency and oversight of the Fed and enables Americans to achieve financial independence. Finally, he wants to reform healthcare by strengthening Medicare and lowering the cost of healthcare through a refundable tax credit to help people buy health insurance in the individual market.

Q: What are your thoughts on VP running mate, Mike Pence?
A: I think Pence is a great Vice President choice for Trump. Truthfully, I would have liked to have seen someone like Nikki Haley or Mia Love on the ticket. The great thing about Pence is that his is the yin to Trump’s yang. He brings a calmness to the ticket as well as a wealth of political experience both on the Hill and as Indiana’s Governor. During Pence’s tenure as Governor unemployment dropped to 5% (from 8.4%). He also reduced taxes every year while having a budget surplus.

Q: Finally, what do you want “Never Trump” voters to know?
A: The race is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. “Never Trump” now means “Hillary.” I ask people to consider which vision for America’s future most closely matches their own. It’s easy to get angry at some of Trump’s comments and his bombastic nature but at the end of the day, Trump wants to work with a Republican Congress to move America forward.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

Why My Friend is Voting for Hillary Clinton

Author: Alexandra Black, Current Events/Politics

According to NPR, millennials make up 31% of voters in the United States, now matching Baby Boomers. However, with much power comes much responsibility. In this case, getting millennials to go out and vote at the polls, instead of solely posting and sharing on Facebook, seems to be a major challenge.

As much as we love to post articles praising one candidate or slamming the other, most do not know the overall facts of the platforms and future effects of each major party candidate.

With the DNC just finishing up, I was able to interview Corinne Falotico, a 2015 George Washington University graduate who majored in Political Communication. She is very supportive of the Democratic community and a huge advocate for women’s rights.

Q: Do you identify with a specific political party? If so, which one?
A: The Democratic Party.

Q: Which values do you identify with most strongly within your party? Are there any values or aspects that you disagree with?
A: I most identify with helping the poor and other marginalized communities. I’m a pretty staunch Democrat so there isn’t anything I disagree with in the party’s current platform.

Q: Hillary has been in the high-end political sphere longer than most, but why exactly should she be President?
A: I believe she is the most qualified candidate in this election and I feel she brings the best policies for fixing our nation’s biggest problems.

Q: Hillary is regularly prosecuted by the public for her history of flip-flopping on issues. What makes her stances valid now?
A: I believe that human beings are allowed to evolve their opinions. A number of politicians have changed their views on gay marriage, abortion and other progressive issues, so I don’t have a problem with Hillary’s evolution on those issues.

Q: How do you feel about VP running mate Tim Kaine? Would you have preferred someone else and why?
A: He definitely wasn’t the most progressive choice, but I understand her strategy behind picking him. There are a lot more moderates/independents who Hillary needs to get on her side rather than people who disagree with her from the left.

Q: Hillary’s foreign policy is seen as more militaristic than President Obama’s and is not the most favorable in China. How do you think these issues will form her potential foreign relations?
A: It’s actually not more militaristic than President Obama’s. She served as his Secretary of State so she played a huge role in carrying out his foreign policy decisions.

Q: Thoughts on the e-mails?
A: “I’m sick and tired of hearing about her e-mails.” But really. The FBI found no wrongdoing, so I don’t understand why it’s still an issue for some people.

Q: There have been many public and private scandals within Hillary’s time under the political scope (the Monica incident, the confidential e-mails, Trump’s friendship and private conversations with the Clintons). It has taken a lot of work to get her to where she is today. So, with all of these skeletons in her closet and conspiracy theories, regardless which are true and which are not, Hillary has proven to be strategic. Do you think being this strategic as well as her attempts to be secretive would hurt her ability to be an effective President and be honest with the American people?
A: I think it’s horrible for people to say she’s an unfit leader because of her husband’s indiscretions. Despite the “skeletons” in her closet, Hillary has very high approval ratings when she is actually holding a position. It’s when she’s running for one that people begin to lash out against her. Hillary is a much better public servant than a typical “politician.” She might not be as charismatic as her husband is on the campaign trail, but I’d rather have a President who can actually get the job done than one who just schmoozes well.

Q: Are you a “Never Trump” or a constant supporter of Hillary?
A: I think Trump would be a dangerous President and Hillary would make an excellent President.

Q: What do you want “Never Hillary” voters to know?
A: I want them to realize that Bernie and Hillary are a lot more alike than different, that a Trump presidency would make our country worse and that many of the critiques against Hillary are not based in fact or fairness.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.