International view: America overlooks choice

Jeanette Perry


From the Caribbean Islands to Sri Lanka. From India to Zimbabwe. International students at Midwestern represent 54 countries, and many come from countries with different backgrounds but the common opinion that they share is that we should be happy that we have choice, even if we do not like the choices we’ve been given. While the International students that represent 9.8 percent of the student population on campus cannot vote in the national election, they have unique views of our country, and our election process.

In the Caribbean Islands for example, citizens follow European models of government, from the Westminster parliamentary system in the United Kingdom to representative democracy like the United States.

Donna-Lisa Nelson, biology senior is from St. Lucia and they follow the Westminster system.

Nelson said, “We mirror the Westminster system so we have a bicameral parliament where you have the House of Representatives and the House of Senate.”

Antigua and Barbuda also follow the Westminster system.

“Every five years we elect a parliamentary representative for each district and based on who gets the most seats in parliament that would determine their leader becoming the Prime Minister,”   Esther Edwards, computer science senior said. “So indirectly as you vote for your parliamentary representative, you are actually deciding on the Prime Minister as well.”

Not all Caribbean Islands follow the same system. Grenada is a Democracy.

Dareem Antoine, economics and math senior said,” Grenada is a democratic state so we have a government that has been elected. Our electoral process runs every five years.”

Rohan Jagbab, health services graduate student, is from India. There, elections occur every four years and they have many political parties.

“We have many parties but there are five major parties in India and there are many sub-parties all over the state so it is quite different from here [United States],” Jagbab said.

With the countries represented you have different forms of government that influence how International students view our country. They have varying knowledge of our system and how it works.

“Honestly, I have only been here for one and a half years now, so I have a general idea of what’s going on but nothing in depth,” Shehan Skarunaratne, accounting junior, said. “I know about the candidates, who they are, in general what their key political policies are.”

Some have learned through their course studies about the United States government and how it works.

“It was very interesting learning about it in my American Government class, because it’s very difficult to what we were expecting and I’m not even sure I know fully what the structure is, but I’m beginning to understand especially with the primaries and then being able to select a candidate that will be the front-runner for each party and it was interesting to see how the debates are structured,” Nelson said. “Back in St. Lucia we wouldn’t have such structured debates.”

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-3-58-39-pmThe debates met with mixed reviews.

“I tried, I really tried. I tried to watch one but I think I lost a few brain cells along the way. It felt that way,” Edwards said. “I was befuddled.”

Antoine said he watched the third debate and felt it was the closest to an actual debate out of the three.

“I actually watched the debate last night. It was a pretty good one I must say. The debates honestly, from what I’ve seen, were a little bit one-sided,” Antoine said. “I will say the most recent one [third debate] was probably the closest to an actual debate of Presidential stature.”

International students have very interesting opinions on both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“So Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, obviously two different ends of the spectrum. It’s basically choosing the lesser of the two devils because, in my opinion, they both have really big flaws,” Denise Mugabe, marketing senior from Zimbabwe, said. “Hillary Clinton, with her going back to Benghazi. I know she has some things that are still murky and unclear to the public, and I feel she is not as truthful as she could be and then also we have Donald Trump who speaks the truth to a certain extent but I think the way he goes about it  and the way he conducts himself does not necessarily represent the American people.”

Nelson said that Clinton seems the most qualified for the job.

“I believe that Hillary Clinton, she would be very qualified in running the United States of America. She’s been exposed to working at that level with her position as the US Secretary of State and being the First Lady I always believe that a very good strong president has a good strong wife behind him,” Nelson said.

International students still look to the United States as a land of opportunity, and are concerned with how this election will affect them.

“The personal thing which I have, or why I came to the United States is in 2012 at the beginning of the election President Obama said something that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, or what you look like. If you are willing to work hard this is your land,” Jagbab said. “I got it and I think most of the International students got it because we think if the president says that, that must be the country. In this election I didn’t see that so, if you are participant in the election it is your job to address to the world not just the American people. The whole world is watching you.”

There are things that the International community like and don’t like about our system of government.

“I like the idea that I can vote for my mayor. I can vote for who is representing me in Congress,” Edwards said. “The electoral college is a bit disturbing. I still don’t follow the electoral college. I don’t understand what is happening there.”

Nelson said more social requirements should be a prerequisite for running for president.

“If there was something I could change it would be that persons are not just required to be a citizen of the United States of America but there needs to be some kind of prerequisite in terms of community service.” Nelson said. “You would have to be active in your community. It doesn’t have to be legislative guidelines [to run for president] but it could just be social guidelines so persons know, if you’ve not done this before, you’re not an ideal candidate.”

Mugabe has a hard time understanding the opinion of those who believe the election system in the United States is rigged. She said citizens of Zimbabwe feel they live under a dictatorship masquerading as a democracy.

“I find it interesting when people say that they feel that their system is rigged because I find it hard to believe in such a systematic manner, where everything can be tracked, they need to come to my country and see, really see what a rigged election is,” Mugabe said. “We’ve had the same president for a little over 30 years.”