As we write this, we still await our absentee ballots to vote in the upcoming presidential election. We both filled out and mailed in all the appropriate paperwork, and we obsessively pop into the porter’s office to see if they’ve been delivered. Our fingers are crossed that by the time you are reading this, we will have received our ballots and successfully voted for our next president for the first time.
We have been in the United Kingdom since August, watching from afar as political tensions rise. Almost all of the breaking political news—debates, email gaffes, Trump’s crude comments—seems to happen while we are asleep, leaving us to play catch-up when we wake (and you, hopefully, are sleeping). Obviously, from the amount of political rants, slanted memes, and “civil discourses” that keep showing up on every social media platform (Instagram? Really?), it is clear that America is gearing up to vote after what has been one of the nastiest presidential campaigns in our nation’s history. From the broad volume of Rollins posts about the Democracy Project and rallying students to the polls, we can only assume that our home campus is just as excited (and anxious) as everyone else.
Being thousands of miles away from the American political election means that almost no one on our campus cares. When they notice our American accents, occasionally a British person will strike up a friendly conversation with us about our home country. Frequently, their third or fourth question is something along the lines of, “What exactly is going on with Trump?” with a look of confusion and often slight horror on their face. How exactly is one supposed to respond to that? No way are we justifying Trump’s actions to anyone. Usually, the British person just nods sympathetically and makes a comment about Brexit: “We never would have thought this stuff could happen…until Brexit.”
It seems that some of the British population keeps up with American politics (mostly Trump’s antics) casually through the news, like many of us may have watched Brexit. Many British people seem legitimately concerned that he could actually win, considering Brexit is now a reality many of them never imagined they would face. Before traveling here, we expected more questions about Donald Trump’s antics and Hillary Clinton’s emails. However, the British news is concerned with other things; the main political concern on many Brit’s minds seems to be their own country’s political issues.
Considering the intensity of this election, we have truly appreciated the break from the intensity of American politics. Besides being mildly stressed about receiving our absentee ballots, the climate of anxiety and angry political rants that usually increases in America as November 8 creeps closer is nowhere to be seen. Hopefully, we can quickly mail our absentee ballots and attend Lancaster’s U.S. Election All-Nighter at an on-campus bar.