The talk of all media, the controversy of the year, the campaign that feels as if it will never end: the 2016 United States presidential election. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the two candidates whose campaign cycle have caught the attention of countless individuals on a national and even global scale.
From the similar styled democratic republic of Guatemala, the multi-party democracy of Ghana, to the differing socialist republic of Vietnam and communist China, a diverse selection of Springfield College students all have impressions of our presidential election while residing here.
Sometimes we forget that in a country so foreign and culturally unlike our own, many similarities may stand. Maame Dufie Kyei of Accra in Ghana said, “Back home, the election is one of the most unpopular elections as well. The candidates in Ghana resemble the candidates here–one is a loudmouth and very rich corporate man like Trump is, and the other candidate, although not a woman, has been caught lying in the past.”
An enthusiast of her country, whose eyes sparkle with every mention of her home, Maria Prado can also connect the political figures of Guatemala to the current nominees. “The candidates are also really bad and most of them have corrupt pasts, so you try to vote for the best candidate,” said Prado. “Like here, a lot of people are voting for Hillary just because they don’t like Trump. So in Guatemala it’s what candidate has the best chance of beating out the other one. It’s the lesser of two evils exactly.”
Students from China and Vietnam are surprised and unfamiliar with the antics of campaigning here in the U.S. On a differing demeanor of politicians, a student from China who preferred not to be named said, “US politicians do not have to be solemn or poker-faced.” This student’s opinion on Trump’s performance is intriguing. “The most attractive parts to me,” he said, “are what grandiloquent words Trump has said, and what the two candidates’ attitude and policy proposals are toward China.”
Minh Ha of Vietnam agrees in the sense of the candidates’ tomfoolery. “The candidates are openly attacking each other,” he said. “It’s aggressively competitive.”
Surprisingly, Ghana has even more intense propaganda, Kwei noted, with numerous billboards urging citizens to support a candidate. Guatemala even suffered a crisis of campaigning overload. “It was contaminating publicity,” said Maria Prado. “Fights broke out because they started their campaigning like two years before, so it was definitely too much.”
One of the most intense elements of publicity here in the U.S. is the use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Prado stated, “The more media that generates, the more people that get involved and I feel like…that was the problem in the first place. For example, Hillary and Trump were candidates who were into the media more than other candidates, so that gave them an advantage somehow. Instead of being the good candidate they were simply the most seen candidates.”
This statement is even statistically proven by the amount of Twitter followers for the nominees. Hillary Clinton has a total of 10.1 million and Donald Trump has a whopping 12.9 million. Defeated Republican candidates like Ben Carson (2.26 million), Ted Cruz (1.72 million), and Marco Rubio (1.65 million) had far fewer followers. Democratic dropouts Bernie Sanders (2.72 million) and Martin O’Malley (139,000) also had far smaller followings.
Even thousands and thousands of miles away, political systems all have one thing in common: the governing of and leading of human beings. We’re all in interest of living the best quality of life, and the perspectives on our proximal and distant neighbors give an understanding of cultural diversity in the realm of politics.
Eric Belyea, Keven Gaiss, and Matty Simmons contributed reporting for this article.