I will admit to not being a close follower of politics. What I know about global news and my own country's internal turmoil is what people tell me. Maybe that makes me a bad, uninformed American but I'm admitting to that now before going further.
It is now November 10th and Donald Trump is the president of the United States of America. How do I feel about this? I feel a lot of things but what I feel the most is disappointment and even shame. I am only 17 years old which means that I couldn't contribute to the voting that occurred a few days ago. Sure I could go to the rallies and encourage people to send in their votes but when it comes down to it I could not contribute to the final outcome. Through this election process I stood on the sidelines observing all of the insanity that was occurring and hoped that who I thought would win...wouldn't.
But there I was on November 9th walking through the doors of building four in St. Bernhard Gymnasium. The one American girl. The girls who's country now had no respect. The voting wasn't official yet. I sat in German class checking my phone every five minutes for that final outcome while my classmates took turns staring at me. He needs four more votes, she needs over 50...What are you going to do if he wins? It's not even a matter of if anymore, only when. Kaeleigh. It's over. He won. Everyone goes back to their staring. It's time to burst this awkwardness bubble. "Yeah sorry guys, America screwed up." Everyone chuckles and looks away. I melt into my seat until the end of class.
At home, "Kaeleigh did you hear the news?" From a friend, "Bad outcome huh?" From a stranger in a restaurant, "Are you from the US? What do you think about the election?" From another friend, "Maybe he won't be so bad..." Every time someone asked me or even looked at me there was a look of pity. A look that said "I don't know how you let this happen."
Being on exchange I am representing the US. This has become much harder this week. The US has granted itself a new image internationally. Saying that I'm an American is harder and I hate that. The US is such a prideful country! I want to be prideful of being an American but currently saying that is like saying "I support Donald Trump and everything that he stands for." But it shouldn't be that way. Yes Trump is the new president of the United States but no he is not the United States. Over 300 million people live in the US and we have the ability to influence the changes made in our country. Donald Trump does not define me as an American and I don't want anyone to think that.
So yes I am still prideful to be an American and no I will not stop waving my flag through Germany for the next nine months I am here just because a provocative and possibly unqualified person has been elected as my president. I am an American and I will continue to act out the positive pieces of my country no matter who is leading it.
Thank you for reading and please don't lose hope in the United States. There is still hope for us no matter what. I can see that all the way from here.
Kaeleigh. This is one of the best things I’ve read post-election. It’s another thoughtful and well written post from you (no surprise). We’re all so proud of the way you’re thinking about the world and handling challenges as they come up. I’m sorry that you’re feeling the weight of the election on your shoulders in your new local community. It’s part of travel and living abroad, albeit an unpleasant one when we are ashamed of the politicians that are representing our country.
All I can encourage you is with this: do your best to embody the best parts of America – love, generosity, kindness, acceptance, opportunity, hard work and community. Our leaders will do what they do, but you have the ability to change people’s minds on a personal level. You’re right. This was a huge step back for our country but I also think it has shaken people at their core to get back on track. I have no doubt that any presidential act of racism, sexism, bigotry, bullying, homophobia or hate will not go unchecked. I received a great boost from the recent full page ad that the ACLU posted in the NYTimes (you should look it up) letting the president-elect know that many of his campaign promises are unconstitutional and he will be stopped in the court of law from pursuing them.
We toured Europe many times during the GW Bush era when America and our war mongering was a laughing stock around the world. I know it feels awful. Know how much we love and respect you for representing our country and our NW region over there. Love, Al, Jenny and Salter