(Picture taken from the AIFS Granada facebook page)
Before I got to Spain, I was told not to talk about two things: religion and politics… The religion thing has gone without a hitch, but these Spaniards, they love talking about American politics. I found myself talking with the students in the residencia and they were so fascinated with our election process, so with the election staring us right in the face, I thought I’d share my thoughts and things I’ve observed about American politics since I’ve been here.
My professors here are amazing, they’re blunt and honest compared to the “political correctness” we see so often in the states. It’s nice to hear their honest opinions, and to hear how they feel about Americans. I feel like back home, there’s so many people who don’t want to be global citizens, who are comfortable sitting in their bubble and who don’t like their ideals and beliefs to be challenged. This just makes me even more glad I decided to spend a semester in Granada to become a more informed global citizen with access to different world views.
Our election process is so confusing; as an American citizen I don’t even fully understand it. So when Spanish students started asking me how it works, it turned into a long conversation, and originally I was nervous about it because I didn’t know their perspectives or how their government works or what they were going to think of what I had to say. Because even on the TV’s here, there’s constantly news on Trump or Hillary, or a new scandal, or the polls- basically our election is more publicized than anything regarding the Spanish government here.
What I learned in this conversation is that they have their preconceived ideas about American politics and I have mine about the state of their government and economy, and neither of us are entirely correct in our assumptions, but I’m glad I’m here to enlighten and to be enlightened. We had a good conversation, in which everyone’s viewpoints were discussed and there was no hostility. It was so refreshing, because I know I couldn’t do that with an American student who has an opposing viewpoint, as we’re naturally so defensive of our positions and beliefs.
Last week, Ex-Congressmen Dan Miller and Brian Baird spoke at UGR Facultad de Ciencias Políticas regarding this year’s election, and they too raised some interesting viewpoints. Brian Baird, a democrat, made his opinions very clear, he made his support for Hillary very clear, as well as his distaste for Trump, whereas Dan Miller, a republican, made his distaste for both candidates clear but wouldn’t voice his opinion as to who he thinks is fit for office. It’s frustrating how the focus is on not offending anyone, where maybe it should be on respectfully getting your opinion across, even if that means it’s not the same as someone else’s.
After the congressmen finished their speeches, the floor was opened for the students to ask them questions. It was so interesting to hear their questions and concerns regarding the presidential candidates, and it was easy to hear how the media has affected their thinking, since their questions reflected popular headlines. It’s amazing the things they see on TV, or read, or research, and the conclusions they come to about our election, and how interested these political students are in our government system.
Why does this matter? Why am I sharing this?
Tomorrow, my home country has a very big decision to make. It’s scary to think of the fate of our country and how this is what our political system has come to. But I guess I’m asking, in what a limited way I can, is for you, if you are an American citizen, is to make an educated choice. Make your voice heard. Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils, because that’s not what this is.
Voting is not a right- it is a privilege. So go and utilize yours, and vote for a safe future for our country.
If you’ve read this far, I’ve included a link to a very well-written article here. Take a minute to read it, and even if it is skewed (what isn’t?) maybe at the last minute, it’ll enlighten you.
It makes me proud to be an American citizen, with the right to vote in this election. I have the right to make a difference for my home country, and to vote for what I think is fair and right. Listening to these congressmen speak reinforced the belief that it’s important for the young people to get involved and make their voices heard. There are so many countries with their eyes on this election, who wish they had the opportunity for their voice to matter. So don’t forget to take advantage of yours.
Until next time, Until there’s a new president,