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. 

As Electors Seal Donald Trump’s Fate, the World Reacts. What’s Next? It’s Up to Us

Author: Alli Jean, Current Events/Politics

December 19, 2016. As electors and protestors alike eagerly anticipated the results of the final smack down in the 2016 Presidential election, around the world in a matter of hours the following occurred:

All of this happened yesterday–while despite the efforts of protesters to encourage electors to become “faithless” and retaliate against the presidency of Donald Trump, not surprisingly, the political apprentice received 304 votes (270 are needed to secure the Presidency) from electors around the nation yesterday. Although this was a slim victory, it does not change the outcome that Donald J. Trump will be the next President of these United States.

The votes will be officially counted when Congress is back in session in early January (with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the count), and then this nation will be mere weeks away from inauguration day…and a whole lot of uncertainty about our future.

A favorite sitcom of mine had this to say about coincidence: “The universe is so rarely lazy.” How true of yesterday. As the last opportunity faded away to stop a racist, misogynistic, bigoted, homophobic Twitter troll and puppet to the cruel around the world, three separate violent attacks have occurred.

I’ve heard over and over again that 2016 has been a year of such disappointment and destruction, that everyone cannot wait for the New Year to begin. But do we really think things are about to get better?

If yesterday is indication, violence and hatred are about to become more commonplace going forward, and we have already begun to become numb to the tactics and rhetoric of the President-elect. Members of Congress had the opportunity to buck tradition and fight, but they didn’t.

What does that say about us? Has fear of fighting a tyrannical figure already set in? I hope not. If anything, what has happened around the world yesterday demonstrates that by doing nothing, violence is inevitable.

Where then, is the risk of demanding that the bar for ourselves and the way we treat one another is set higher? And let’s remember that it was Islam and Christianity that were attacked, with violence ensuing in a Christmas market and an Islamic center. The universe is literally demonstrating in no uncertain terms that we have entered an era when no group is safe from harm; our efforts at nationalism and isolationism from our difference have led us here.

Let’s rise together, not just as a nation, but as a global community and dare to question any political institution and figure who threatens to divide and oppress us.  In times of great uncertainty and danger, it has always been like minded individuals who have made change. We have so much to gain by coming together.

 

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

#Election2016: One Month Later

Author: #NAMB Guest Author, Current Events/Politics

A month ago, I went to my old junior high school in Brooklyn to vote for Hillary Clinton, who was all but certain to become the first female President in the history of the United States roughly 12 hours later. But then all hell broke loose.

A man who was dangerously unqualified for the Presidency and whose campaign started as an attention-grab that got out of control, was elected president. And in the hours before, when it became clear Donald Trump would win, I was beside myself.

I ordered food when the returns started coming in and by the time it got there, I was physically unable to eat it. I was that sickened by what was going on. I planned to celebrate the night with a few drinks, but could only sip water. Eventually, with a huge couch and bed feet away, I instead found myself lying face-first on my wood floor, talking with my roommate while trying to understand what had just happened.

This election was never a liberal vs. conservative thing. Instead, it was one side railing against a woefully unprepared, lying, hateful, racist, misogynist. And a month after that disgraceful human being became President-elect, he has done nothing to allay the fears people had prior to the election.

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Trump looked like a deer in the headlights while meeting with President Obama, has continued his war with the media, has kept tweeting as if he’s a child unable to control himself (most recently in a feud with Saturday Night Live) and has selected or nominated a host of questionable people — with his pick for Education Secretary among the most worrisome.

Meanwhile, starting with the night of the election, we’ve seen peaceful protests against Trump in all of the major cities in America. We’ve witnessed the bewilderment emanating from other countries, and have watched as some people have started wearing safety pins as a sign of solidarity with those who will be the most at risk under Trump’s coming presidency.

During the midterm election in two years, those of us who were against Trump will have the ability to take back two of the three branches of the government. And if we all actually get our asses out and vote — unlike during the recent general election — that’s exactly what will happen.

Until then, we need to keep our heads up and march forward.

There is no time machine to get in and no recount coming. This is happening. But instead of focusing on why it happened, those among us who were so virulently against a potential Trump Presidency need to keep fighting against the kind of divisive rhetoric and hateful agenda that led him to the White House.

 

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

To My Fellow American Millennials

Author: Alli Jean, Current Events/Politics

To My Fellow American Millennials,

This is the blog post I really hoped I wouldn’t have to write, yet sadly am not surprised to find myself confronted with.

First, Donald Trump, Mike Pence and their supporters are to be congratulated. You won. You proved so many people wrong and you inspired millions of people to unite in supporting you. So, congratulations. I may not agree with a single one of your policies but I can acknowledge what you have accomplished. You will be our President. That’s how Democracy works.

While we have every right to fight every last policy you put forth, part of the privilege of being American citizens is respecting the process we have set forth. Unless we work together to change how the electoral process works, the reality is that America chose to elect Donald Trump Tuesday night.

So, I think we need to be honest about the varied but fervent emotions that are reverberating among us right now.

Those who opposed and voted against Trump are fearful. Fearful of what is to come, of the idea that the progress that has been made prior to and over the last eight years will be eliminated, fear for the livelihood of our neighbors, friends and family, fear that the rights we treasure will be taken away, fear that diversity will be overcome by oppression and fear that our global relationships will be tarnished by the decision we have just made.

But, those who support Trump have been living in fear too. For many, the past eight years have not brought as much economic improvement as they had hoped. ISIS and other terrorist and extremist groups around the world have either formed or gotten stronger, and many fear imminent danger in terms of our National Security. Many feel that this fear is compounded by the fact that their second amendment rights could be taken away, and that society is becoming too open-minded in terms of accepting those of different backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities and cultural interests.

The idea that everything must be politically correct has created a backlash and inevitable protest that elected someone who has and will say anything he believes, no matter the consequence.

Regardless of if you fit into one of the above categories or you don’t, we need to recognize that while we may vehemently disagree and even argue that one of the two sentiments above have been constructed from outright lies, it doesn’t mean they aren’t real to those who believe them. Fear is how we got here, and understanding that might hopefully lead us to work with one another differently now. We need to heal.

Throughout history, we revere those who have stood up to injustice. Now it’s our turn…again. We built this country by standing up to oppression, by fighting for religious liberty, and by declaring that this will be a land where all people are created equal. However, it wasn’t perfect then, was it? And we find ourselves standing at a similar precipice now.

The future depends on where we go from here. Maybe Trump won’t fulfill his campaign promises, and I truly hope he will do as he said he would do in his victory speech Tuesday night and be the President and advocate for every American. But if Trump and Pence do what they have built their campaign upon, the well-being of anyone who is not a wealthy, white male is in jeopardy.

If you are not Christian (especially if you are Muslim or Jewish), if you are Hispanic or any other race, if you are disabled, if you are a member of the LGBT+ Community, if you are a woman, if you are from a working-class family, if you are living in poverty or close to it, if you are undocumented. The list goes on and on.

Here’s why I have hope: Americans thrive in the face of adversity. It is our life blood. Traditionally, we have made progress very slowly, with one group paving the way for the next group of crusaders to take up their cause.

But perhaps the fact that so many have so much to lose under our next President will mean that we will rise up together to prevent the unthinkable. We know the rhetoric that has been spread throughout this election season, by many of the candidates, but it is now up to us to prevent these thoughts of bigotry from becoming an oppressive reality.

If we’re being honest, a lot of us were disappointed with a lot of the choices this election. Maybe we needed this to motivate ourselves to do better. If there’s one thing everyone learned from this campaign, it’s that passion for a candidate and his or her ideas is a much stronger motivator than disdain of a candidate’s opponent. So, let’s use that to our advantage.

Now is the time to become politically aware. To run for office. To stand up for the environment, for all people facing prejudice. To learn to articulate your views with poise, compassion and finally to be willing to compromise when needed. Now is the time when we should examine the electoral process and reform the metrics within it that are obsolete, to explore the idea that a two party system may not be the best way to govern, to write to our elected officials and demand that they serve those who elected them and not their special interests.

We also need to remember that contradictorily, the GOP took control of the House and the Senate while simultaneously, a number of progressive Democrats won congressional seats across the United States. Both parties are ready for change and new blood within our congress gives us the opportunity to do so.

It would be so easy right now to give in to both the fear and bigotry that have been omnipresent throughout this election. But that’s not who we are as Americans. Let’s remind those around the world who are watching our next move that Americans always win against tyranny, and we’re not about to stop now.

Love, peace and understanding to all of you,

Alli

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

If Only Millennials Voted, the Outcome Would Have Been Different

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Current Events/Politics

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That’s right, millennials, we let our voices be heard. If it was only millennials who voted in the election, Hillary Clinton would have won.

Now, you might be saying – wait, how did we let our voices be heard if the candidate that we wanted didn’t win? Well, let me tell you.

We let our voices be heard by getting out there and voting. We let our voices be heard so loud that people thought it would be worthwhile to share the results of what would have happened if only our generation had voted. And, we let our voices be heard by all, with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama addressing millennials in their speeches today.

And that is something to be proud of.

Just look at this map. This is what our generation wanted to make happen and tried to make happen.

Yes, of course, this map can cause anger. Why should we go out and vote if the person our generation wants to win doesn’t win anyway? Well, we should go out there and vote because it’s our civic duty, and because change won’t happen by sitting at home. We should go out there and vote so our voices are heard again, like they were heard this election season.

The fact that Hillary would’ve won by a landslide is not something that should go unnoticed, either. Millennials, the majority of us are working towards the same goal. We want to see the same issues addressed in our country. We want to work together and support each other.

Now, should we give up just because Hillary didn’t win? No. She said it to us today in her concession speech.

And to the young people in particular, I hope you will hear this—I have, as Tim (Kaine) said, spent my entire life fighting for what I believe in.

I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks. Sometimes, really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public, and political careers—you will have successes and setbacks too.

This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.

The fact that this is what the map looked like if only millennials voted should give us hope for the future. I don’t say that in an “only Democrats will win from now on” way at all. I say it in a “we as a generation are coming together to make the world a better place” way.

The fact that so many millennials showed up to vote is amazing. It shows that we care about this country, and what happens to it. It shows that we want to support our candidate, and support each other.

Yes, it is rough to see that if only our generation had voted the outcome would’ve been different. It can be very discouraging. But don’t let it be. The future is ahead for us to continue to try to change things for the better.

 

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