An American Election in England
Updated: Jan 22
Tuesday, November 8, 2016 is a day I’ll never forget as long as I live. Not only was it the day we elected a reality television star into office, but it was the day I witnessed a microcosm of the American culture in one of the most unexpected places in the world: England. You couldn’t make this shit up if you tried. Let’s discuss.
When I was 20 I studied abroad in England during one of the most heated times in both American and British history; Brexhit and the Trump Hillary election. During my time abroad I made stops in Ireland, France and Scotland. I got the privilege of hearing international opinions on Brexhit and the American 2016 Election. Generally, everyone was scared for England and America, but every conversation was calm and every debate was healthy. I wish I could say the same for election night...
Me and the other American students gathered in the basement of the British abbey to watch. The night started off casually, and even though it was a Tuesday, some of us were understandably drinking. As more and more states were voting for Trump, one liberal classmate of mine, widened her eyes and said, “There’s still time. There’s still more states.” She was visibly distraught but I wouldn’t learn exactly how distraught until Trump actually won.
When Trump was elected the Hillary supporters cried. While a small part of me was laughing because I had never seen people cry over election results, every other part of me was sympathizing. The political part of me was laughing but the human part of me was sympathizing. My caveman instincts reminded me that even though my classmates and I had different political views, we were humans first, sisters and brothers under God who needed to be there for one another.
The distraught liberal was now inconsolable, saying between her tears, “What’s gonna happen to my gay friends and my Mexican friends?" I asked her if she was alright to which she responded a stern no. I opened my arms to offer a hug and was answered with a, “Don’t touch me.”
So what made that experience on election night in England a microcosm of the American culture?
Americans claim to hate labels yet thrive off of labeling each other. That night, I labeled her a snowflake and she labeled me, I guess, racist and sexist because I was a Trump supporter. Little did she know I did not vote in that election and little did I know, there was more to her than her political views. We labeled each other.
We are human before we are democrat or republican, but it seems everyone in this country has forgotten that and equally forgotten that you can still like someone and not agree with all their views.
Politics are not simple, but our desire to discuss them should be. Today, no one can talk about politics without getting offended. We have left the kave and forgotten the simplistic beauty of sharing different opinions and generating debate for the progression of our nation. I wonder, why can't the debate and a hug happen in the same moment? When did we wander so far from the kave that we stopped seeing people as humans and started seeing them as labels?