American Election Closely Watched Abroad
How do people in other countries view American elections?
“When it comes to American election politics,” government major Khaled Wardak ’13, “Afghans do not really care who is running for election or who wins the election, because of the U.S. foreign policy.”
Wardak, who took part in a four-member panel on March 7 to discuss the ramifications of the election year in other countries, said Afghans don’t expect American policy to change based on who wins an election. “Afghans and the Muslim world perceive American foreign policy in relation to certain issues, especially the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” and the Arab world, he said, worries that American policy favors Israel.
The other student participants were Ness Dong ’14 from China, Jozef Moffat ’15 from Zimbabwe, and Jonathan Sommer ’14 from Germany. Assistant Professor of French Valerie Dionne moderated.
Dong applauded the lively debates and discussions in the Republican primaries to date. “I cannot speak for the whole country of one point three billion in China,” Dong said, “but Chinese media is definitely interested in covering the U.S. election.”
Dong remarked on the polarization of the parties and questioned whether that had always been true of the American political system. Moffat similarly criticized strict adherence to a two-party election pitch targeted at one’s base.
“It’s very polarized,” Moffat said. “It reduces the value of the candidates. I feel that, at the end of the day, it’s just producing generic candidates from the two parties, and you don’t get a variety. There could be a leader out there who doesn’t fall in the two extremes and the system doesn’t allow for such people.”
While the panelists agreed that the U.S. election is important for the country and the world, they could not agree on who would be the best leader for America.
Moffat, who credited the Republicans for putting religion front and center, preferred Texas Governor Rick Perry, who had dropped out, while Dong stood solidly behind Obama, the incumbent.
Sommer criticized all the current participants in the Republican primaries. In Germany, he said, “the media is really portraying these Republican candidates as rather incapable and laughable and not suited to be president of the United States.”
German politics have less-personal attacks than those characterizing the American election, he said. Sommer also balked at the sheer length of election season in America.