I have had the opportunity to follow the US presidential race from abroad, whilst living in Tunisia. Here are some fun observations and reflections:
Many Tunisians I know are quite worried about the possibility of Trump becoming president. They hear what he says about banning Muslims from entering the country and start to worry about whether or not they will be able to travel to the US in the future. I typically brush this off and say there is no chance he will get elected. Even if he somehow gets elected, I tell people that there would be a military coup before he can launch any of his crazy ideas to defend the free world.
However, once I go out with friends and have a few beers, I start to express my deep fear of Trump becoming president. I spend a lot of my time here with an American friend of mine who happens to be Republican. I make fun of him for being a “closeted Democrat,” since he’s socially liberal, but fiscally conservative. He says he would vote for Clinton over Trump.
Despair always sets in when we begin talking about the possibility of Trump becoming president. As we hug our beer mugs, we start to make contingency plans for where we will apply for asylum following his potential election.
On a more positive note, talking about the elections with Tunisians can be quite exciting. Some Tunisians are quite up-to-date on American politics, way more so than some Americans are.
Most of the young Tunisians who stay abreast with American politics Feel the Bern. The majority of young Democrats in the US support Bernie Sanders, so the parallel of young Tunisians supporting Bernie makes sense. He stands for a better tomorrow for everyone.
Some of the best conversations I’ve had about American politics occur in taxis. I often zip my lips in taxis because I prefer driving to and from work in silence. However, my presence in taxis sometimes garners a “Where are you from?,” which often eventually leads to an “Obama good!” to which I respond, “Yes!” One-hundred percent of the time, this is followed up with a “Bush bad!” to which I respond more emphatically, “Yes!”
Hopefully, fourteen years from now, a young man in his 20s won’t have to hear a taxi driver say “[so and so] good!” followed up by a “Trump bad!”
The only major downside of being abroad during election season is that I feel like I can’t have as much of an impact. I voted for Bernie in the Democrats Abroad primary, which he won overwhelmingly. I also Tweet and post on Facebook about reasons to vote for Bernie. However, I can’t help feeling like I would be a lot more influential in convincing on-the-fence voters to join Bernie’s side if I was in the US. Chatting with friends who are planning on abstaining through Facebook Messenger does not provide much of a chance for convincing them to join Bernie’s team. Seeing pictures from the Washington Square Park Bernie rally was both equally torturous and exciting: torturous because I wished I was there and exciting because I felt like I was witnessing history.
On the plus side, I’ve been able to share with my friends my belief that foreign policy is the most important criteria when deciding a president. Living abroad has brought me to this conclusion. I care deeply about my country, but I also recognize that US presidential policy has a ripple effect throughout the world, for better or worse.
I hope this time around, America can make the right decision. In 2000 and 2004, we failed to choose the right candidate. In 2008 and 2012, we chose the right candidate. Now is the time to make the right decision again. For me, it’s Bernie. If he loses the primary, then it’s without a doubt Clinton. After that, I’m moving to Ireland and finally claiming my Irish citizenship.