Politics from the eyes of an international student

“But you can’t vote,” seems to be the response I get every time I share my political views with others during the elections.

Unlike others, the right to vote is not granted to international students, which I completely understand. But just like me, there are approximately a million other students scattered across the country who feel as confused as I do about the way politics are exercised in this country. So here I am, unable to vote yet crucially impacted by American policies that can change overnight.

(Sharon Wu | The Poly Post)

Whatever outcome you wished for in this election, it would be foolish to think that either the re-election or the defeat of mandatory office holders will solve the deep-rooted issues afflicting American political order.

The past four years of living in the United States and in Trump’s America have conditioned me to become numb to the administration’s unrelenting attacks on international students and others like us. In addition to this, seeing how the country commercializes the elections, entertains presidential debates and instills fear in those with opposing beliefs by rioting and protesting, concerns me. With the freedom that is granted to citizens and their civil right to vote, I question where the civility lies in America’s politics.

I was born and raised on the small island of Aruba before I moved to pursue a college degree abroad. Politics played a big role on the island, as in any other country, but it felt different here. Aruba has its own constitution, based on Western democratic principles. Thank you, America. The only difference is that The king of the Netherlands appoints the governor of Aruba, determined by the public’s votes, who then holds office for a six-year term, and acts as their representative. And, just like that, we have a higher entity regulating our politics.

No show, no entertainment, just the right to vote for your beliefs of the island without the ruckus.

Conversations about politics or the act of exercising political beliefs here in America feels taboo, even topic to bring around among those who we are close with. Families are divided by their beliefs, friendships are terminated by opposing opinions, all in the name of the donkey and the elephant who don’t agree with each other. After all, maybe we are part of the problem by ignoring the other side of politics

The controversy worsens when candidates up for election are constantly entertained by the media, acting almost as a flow of gossip to our devices to influence people’s minds. Accusations of rigged elections, media manipulation, uncounted votes and attack ads on opposing parties are a first for me, as I learned more every day about this country’s elections procedure.

For a country that has opened its doors to me and countless other students around the world, it’s time for the country to open its doors to new ideas and solutions — not only to the country’s problems, but to the way politics are practiced.

I may only be one of many voices expressing these feelings, and maybe you won’t agree, but America has always been a country that I’ve looked up to from abroad. Now, I can’t fathom the broken system in today’s politics, and the kind of division affecting millions of people’s mental health, personal and professional relationships. Maybe it will take a new president for changes to surge, maybe new take on reforms and policies, or maybe it all lies in the power of the people.

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