About our writer
Emilia Persson is a current undergraduate of Cambridge University reading HSPS (Human, Social, and Political Science), and is an alumnus of the Cambridge Immerse 2014 Summer Programme where she studied the International Relations course.
Unless you have been living under a rock, or making it your deliberate mission to avoid any form of news outlet for the past few months, you will know that the United States of America is currently experiencing a rather tumultuous political period: the lead-up to the Presidential Election 2016. On November 8th, Americans will be voting on who should be the new leader of one of the most powerful states in the world.
However, the United States is approximately 4,242 miles away from the UK, the time zone difference between London and Washington DC is 5 hours, and the entirety of the Atlantic Ocean is separating the North American continent from the European one. So why do we non-Americans even care about whether it will be Hillary or Trump?
Firstly, I need to point out that this article space is not nearly enough to give a justifiable answer to the question. American politics do permeate and influence world politics to a large extent, but it does so in a very complex way. I will do my best to summarize the main reasons as to why we do care, and more notably, why we should care about the outcomes of this election.
The choice of presidential candidate will undeniably affect American domestic politics, which in itself is a significant factor to consider when entering the voting polls. Nevertheless, as a non-American, we tend to be more interested in the effects that American politics has on the international community. The fact that Hillary Clinton could be the first female President of the US, would mean a great deal to modern-day feminism. It would conceptually show the world that women are capable of being leaders, and leaders of a powerful nation at that. She has also stated that, if she is elected President, she will “resolve the outstanding issues around (the) broken immigration system. The American people support comprehensive immigration reform not just because it’s the right thing to do- and it is – but because they know it strengthens families, strengthens our economy, and strengthens our country” (May 5th, 2015). Extensive immigration reform, if implemented successfully, could drastically change the international community, especially in the light of the recent migration crisis in regards to the Syrian conflict. Furthermore, Secretary Clinton has promised that in the face of the fight against terrorism, the United States, under her leadership, will defend its friends and allies. With the US’s extensive resources in terms of military, finances and general ideological might, many states are bound to benefit from an American alliance if they are threatened by organizations such as ISIS.
We should also care about the fact that Donald Trump wants to build a wall separating the US and Mexico; we should worry about his hateful sentiments toward Islam; and we should be incredulous of his plans to end the nuclear proliferation ban deal with Iran. If these plans were to follow through, the rest of the world would feel its effects. In terms of trade, Trump plans to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement, and in the worst case scenario, the US will withdraw from the deal. The economic impact of such withdrawal would hurt the Mexican economy, and would most likely, create hostile tensions within the region. Additionally, in regards to immigration and national defense, Trump claims that the US will suspend “immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism”. Historically, this ‘us’ versus ‘them’ attitude has had detrimental effects. If the US begins to discriminate against immigrants and asylum-seekers based on their home-countries, we will inevitably begin to see greater patterns of racism and discrimination based on religion worldwide – to an even greater extent than to what already exists.
The potentiality of political extremism, nuclear war and political conflict hangs in the balance, regardless of who becomes President – both candidates will have the power to initiate life-changing events if they won the election. The US is a hegemonic power in modern-day politics. What this country says or does applies to everyone, whether we may agree with it or not. It has a physical presence worldwide, with nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories. There are economic concerns to be had, as the US economy is the largest national economy in the world. That speaks for itself: if drastic economic changes were to occur, they would undoubtedly cross the American borders.
Clearly, there is not much that can be done as a non-American when it comes to deciding whether you are #I’mWithHer or #MakeAmericaGreatAgain. Needless to say, it is still important to pay attention, and to consider the effects that the election might have on you and whichever country you might be finding yourself in. Whatever the outcome of the election, the winning candidate will be making history. 2016 is an exciting time in terms of politics, but it is also a worrying time – there is much to be done to improve our world, but that in itself makes for an interesting journey; and the US Election 2016 plays a big role in that department.