Anastasia Muca is an American writer and Masters student in London. She explains her mixed emotions observing the US election from this side of the atlantic.
I have always been proud to be American. I am the daughter of an immigrant parent, and my extended family is of mixed race and religion. We are a true melting pot. Fried Oreos are amazing and to be honest, I quite like that our version of Kate Middleton is Kim Kardashian.
The 2016 Presidential Election has not made me proud to be American.
Most people in America do not know who the British Prime Minister is. They do not know much about Brexit or that the price of Marmite is rising. Yes, yes, bloody ignorant, the lot of us! But, people in England really, really care about what happens in America. Rather than hearing about people’s American holidays, my classmates, friends and my Uber drivers have an opinion on the election and they want to know mine. They know who Bernie Sanders is and that Hillary is not well liked by millennials. British newspapers have thoroughly covered her email scandals and have spoken in true fear of Donald Trump. It seems that everyone is in agreement – dump Trump.
At first, as an American, you tend to get a bit defensive. I do know a thing or two about UK politics, and ya’ll are not killing it either! When I moved past the instinct to defend my country, I realized that there is no way to do that. Giving Trump the Republican nomination was more than a simple act of self-destruction. It is so much bigger than that. Bigger than America. The idea of Trump as our president, to have this glimmer of possibility, is terrifying.
Living in London has confirmed that what Europeans think about Americans is true. We are loud and abrasive, and simply cannot stand on the right side of an escalator. Our presence is not just evident on Oxford Street with sorority girls selfie stick selfie-ing. It is everywhere. I see full American politics covered in newspapers, American shows played on television and any viral YouTube video of kittens with babies is most likely American.
Americans are loud. Where we stand concerning politics and ethics affects not just my home in Maine, but quite literally the entire world. To have someone like Trump represent my country makes me ashamed. Not because of his orange skin or his stumpy fingers, but because his poisonous rhetoric will reach us all the way across the pond and around the world.
Politics has always been rigged. Politicians have always been “crooked”. The American in me wants to be selfish, wants to speak in outrage that Bernie Sanders was snubbed, that Hillary’s money talks, and that she has fought dirty. I want to nit-pick that her definition of feminism often excludes minorities and that it took her months to acknowledge “Black Lives Matter.” Living in the UK, removed and far away, the risk is too high.
Fight the system when innocent lives are not at stake, when families do not have the potential to be torn apart, when a man who is so fully and totally under-qualified with an aggressive temper is not a possible president. Let’s challenge the system by all means, but not when Trump’s racist and ignorant rhetoric will ricochet across the pond. This election is frustrating and maddening; it makes me angry and ashamed of my country, but I will not let it make me selfish.
If America accepts a leader like this, there is no telling how the rest of the world will follow. Living in London has taught me to think beyond America’s walls (which will hopefully always stay as metaphorical) and think beyond ourselves. I just hope the rest of my country will do the same.