How an Indonesian Expat Views the US Presidential Election
I have been following the elections in the Netherlands, Indonesia and now in the USA. Election in the Netherlands was relatively calmer compared to Indonesia and the USA. As a matter of fact, the Presidential election in the USA reminds me a lot of the Indonesian Presidential election in 2014 when the social media played important role. It creates haters versus lovers; unfriend friends who have different political opinions; calling those who against own opinion by names on the online media and so on
This is still a blog about travel, scuba diving, and marine life. My post this time just my views as an Indonesian expat living in the USA, and as a part of international community. In the future, the result of this election may affect travelers from specific countries to enter the USA if Trump’s 100 days plan is indeed implemented.
Surprisingly, the American voter turnout is not as many as Indonesians. It looks like Indonesians are much more into practicing their political rights compared to the Americans. Voters in Indonesian 2014 Presidential Election were 134+ million (source). Meanwhile, in the USA 2012 Presidential Election, it was 129+ million (source). The tentative result of the USA 2016 Presidential Election is 114+ million turnout voters. This is still a tentative number, though; it could be changed, but perhaps it is not much. There are many reasons behind their absentees; I am not here to judge.
Candidates wars to harm the opponent’s credibility through scandalous materials, accusations or bullies were visible and sometimes, dishonest. I followed the campaign period of the Indonesian Presidential Election in 2014, and it was tiring after numerous ridiculous scandals and rumors thrown over against each other. Moreover, that is the case as well as in the United States. Each time there was a scandalous event related to Trump, then the following day, the issue of e-mails related to Hillary made it to the news. Not to mention the tweets with bully messages. On and on, it was non-stop and at some point I decided to stop watching the news and ignored the updates in social media. These ugly stories of the candidates become the scars that would stay within, and they would be difficult to forget and forgive.
TV ad campaign budget is expensive, and it broadcasts on a daily basis. It was reported the TV ad campaign in 2016 would spend $4.4 billion (source). That is insane! I found it was amusing to watch these ads and how frequent they appeared on the television. When I was in the Netherlands, I did not remember to see political ad campaign on TV – only a few. The cost as well, it was just madness and gosh, why not, instead of using such huge amount of money for the ad, do something positive for the people?
Following the live update of the US Presidential Election made me emotional. I was not alone. My friends who are majority live in different part of the world kept sending me messages to ensure what they read online were for real. Yes, they were. Our concerns show how important the US Presidential election for us, the international community. We remember Trump’s proposals such as the US Great Walls, the Muslim’s registrations, and to stop immigration from Islamic countries. Later on, he changed the Islamic countries to terror-prone regions – it is a bit vague, but that could mean it would include some countries in the European Union like France, UK, Belgium and even the Netherlands where the threats of terrorists do exist. His friendship with that KKK guy was also disturbing.
Hillary’s lost in electoral college meant that there are deeper problems within the USA that caused to having a controversial figure as a country leader would not matter anymore. Trump has a lavish lifestyle, and he is far from being diplomatic in voicing his thoughts. Unemployment, expensive medical care for the middle class, expensive education, conservatism against ideas to promote equality for LGBTQ and the abortion, fear of terrors, safety and more. I get that the social and economic gap in the US is still huge and there are some problems during the Obama’s administration. These are the things that could trigger the voters. And perhaps Michael Moore’s prediction earlier this year will explain better, 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win.
(Update: Majority American voters chose for Hillary Clinton with 62.5 million while Trump gets 61.2 million – but the Electoral College system made Trump as the president. In Indonesia, Hillary Clinton will likely be the president).
The US Presidential election result makes me proud of my Indonesian fellows who voted for Joko Widodo as President. In 2014 Indonesia Presidential election, we had two president candidates in which one of them was controversial due to his past of human rights matters, his authoritarian characters and his majority supporters who demanding him to promote religious fundamentalism (which was likely he would do so). His popularity worried many Indonesians who have been enjoying the colorful life in the plural and diverse society. Thankfully, Indonesians, which is the largest Muslim population in the world, elected a president who endorsed pluralism and diversity instead of this person. A controversial president candidate with troubling history, characters and has no respects to diversity did not win the heart of majority Indonesians. Unfortunately, it is not what happens on the US Presidential Election of 2016.
Hillary’s concession speech is humble, powerful and moving. It comes at the right time to calm and reach out the voters who believe in her. I find her struggles to be the first U.S. Female President is extraordinary. I am just out of words at this moment.
Donald Trump, at last, made a victory speech earlier this morning that showed his willingness to unite the country. Let’s hope he will keep this promise in peaceful way. Congratulations on the elected 45th President of the United States.
Welcome to the era of Trumpland.