At a Crossroads: Your Thoughts On the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

By Jean Pierre Guzhnay

— As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump prepare to take the stage for the first presidential debate at New York’s Hofstra University on September 26, The Herring spoke with AUC students about their opinions on the two main candidates and how this year’s U.S. election could potentially affect them.

While most of those currently enrolled at AUC cannot vote in the election on November 8, many said they would do so if given the chance, especially if it meant stopping Trump from becoming president.

“It is a democratic duty to vote, though I really don’t like Hillary Clinton, I think she is a horrible person,” said “Max”, an anonymous 1st year student in Economics. “If tomorrow the polls change on gun control, she would change right with them. To me, she is absolutely representative of the Establishment’s America […] but if I had to stop Donald Trump, I would vote for her,” he admitted.

Max resided in the United States for four years as a child, but lived for most of his life in Dubai before enrolling to AUC this semester. Throughout this time he was always able to follow U.S. politics through various social media platforms. “[On Facebook] it would get more radical, either it’s hard left liberals, or staunch conservatives,” he thought. “First you had your Bernie people sharing pages like “Now This” or “AJ Plus”; the Trump people and Republicans sharing all these sketchy conservative websites like Fox News, and then; the Hillary people who share everything,” he added.

While social media played a big role in spreading coverage of the election, not everyone chose it as their primary source of information. Exchange student Dikte Grønvold, an Art and Aesthetics major from Denmark who studies at Bard College in Berlin, doesn’t use social media that often but was always able to keep up to date through Danish media. “They cover it a lot, whether it is through television, newspaper, or radio,” Grønvold said. “Denmark is quite focused on the U.S. because they have many trade agreements,” she added.

“I think it is disturbing that in Germany it isn’t all that present. The news there is much more focused on the European situation. Denmark doesn’t really talk much about Europe as they speak about the United States, and that is also strange,” said the Copenhagen native.

While the U.S. elections may not necessarily have a direct impact on her life, Grønvold thought that they can have a big impact on issues like environmental protection.  “I feel like [the environment], especially in Denmark is, not a ‘sexy’ topic to talk about. Politicians usually avoid it because it is not a topic that can get votes, it implies people have to change their lifestyle, and that’s not really attractive,” she said. “In Denmark, they would say this is for the European Union, this is not for us, and that in a way, is passing on a responsibility.”

Unlike Grønvold and Max, some follow the election even more intensely than their US friends. Among them is Karl Käther, a German exchange student from the Life Sciences department at the University College Freiburg.

“I think in the United States there are many people that don’t even want to deal with politics at all, as compared to Europe,” he said. “And I believe it is important for the whole world because the United States is such a powerful country.” And while Karl would have preferred having Bernie Sanders as the democratic candidate,  the more important thing right now, he says, is to not let Donald Trump into the Oval Office.

“This election definitely scares me because you have Trump, and I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton either. But I would vote for her just because he shouldn’t be president in my opinion, when I compare my views of the world to his. I don’t know, maybe this guy turns up at Election Day and says this was all a joke, because it has been ridiculous,” Käther went on to say.

For Käther, the U.S. presidential election can lead to an important social and economic influence on Europe. “It’s the most powerful country in the world, militarily, economically, and of course how it’s controlled and who leads it will have a great impact,” he said.

According to Käther, the outlook was not all rosy, however. “I think there has to be some type of change, because the protectionism that the western world practices is harming the rest of the world,” he thought. “For me, as a European, there’s got to be a diplomatic solution found in Syria and the whole [of the] Middle East […] and the U.S. will probably play the most important role.”

When asked for a prediction, the 21-year-old proved hesitant to give one. “I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. It’s an interesting election, look what democracy has brought us, it`s really weird. But that’s the way it is right now, I don’t know, I guess you have to stay optimistic,” he concluded.

This is the first in a series of articles on the upcoming United States presidential election that will attempt to place it in the context of AUC staff and students’ opinions and expectations.

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