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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.



  1. Kalau baca berita disini katanya banyak yg demo menentang ya mba? Tempatmu aman kan mba? Smoga aman2 aja ya. Ga berani banyak komen krn ga ngerti :p

    • Terimakasih banyak 🙂 Demonya masih terus berjalan hingga hari ini di berbagai kota termasuk Minneapolis. Ada juga aksi dari komunitas yang mencoba merangkul semua kalangan agar gak ribut. Sejauh ini sih lebih banyak yang positif ketimbang berita-berita negatif soal diskriminasi – sudah ada kasus rasis di beberapa sekolah sejak Trump menang. Menyedihkan banget.. 😦

  2. The phrase “the era of Trumpland” brought me to tears. I am American, once living abroad (actually thrice living abroad), but now back home. Trumpland would be a foreign country for me. I’m numb, but trying not to despair. If you’ve watched the news, you know that, while losing the electoral college, Clinton won the popular vote, albeit just barely. People are protesting in the streets, and people are also sitting in their homes in utter shock . . . while, obviously, much of the population gloats or is happy. (And, yes, there are rumblings of Brexit-like second thoughts and buyer’s remorse.) We are a country deeply divided. I hope the world looks on realizing that, if we are deserving of your anger and confusion at this election choice, we are also deserving of your compassion and hopefulness. Lots of us are struggling to turn this ship around, or at least contain the damage and figure out how to heal the rifts, and most of all, find our vision for an inclusive and tolerant America again. And, yes, Hillary Clinton’s speech was beautiful and uplifting. In my heart, she will always be the 45th president. (Obama also made a fantastic speech the next day. You can see it here: )

    • Hugs from here to you. I am so sorry, I did not mean to make you sad. I feel in despair too, as it looks like controversial politicians and public figures are spreading around the globe. There are several community actions in Minneapolis to gather people to stay united and care of each other. It feels comforting when I was there and to see the number of supporters. I hope for the best for your nation. May peace always be with all of us. Hugs from Minneapolis.

  3. Aku baru tau kalau dirimu sekarang ternyata di US mbak, aku pikir masih di Belanda dan US cuma untuk urusan kerja atau jalan-jalan saja. Btw, terlepas dari segala permasalahan, konsep, serta kompetensi yang dimiliki oleh Hillary Clinton, aku merasa beliau tidak menang karena rakyat Amerika belum siap untuk memiliki presiden wanita. Memang pendapat ini mungkin rasanya terlalu janggal, tapi aku melihat dari beberapa ekspatriat Amerika yang kebetulan ada di field tempat aku bekerja. Secara konsep mereka tidak terlalu menginginkan Donald Trump untuk menjadi presiden selanjutnya, karena latar belakang serta konsepnya yang ‘agak di luar bayangan’. Namun mereka sendiri juga merasa kurang sreg untuk memiliki presiden wanita saat ini. Akhirnya pilih punya pilih, mereka lebih memilih untuk mengalihkan suara mereka ke Donald Trump. Agak seksis memang alasannya. Tapi mungkin ini juga bukan pendapat yang representatif sih, cuma sedikit contoh kecil saja.

    Sebagai orang Indonesia sih, aku pribadi berharap siapapun yang menang, bisa membuat Amerika menjadi negara yang lebih menyenangkan untuk semua tetangga-tetangganya, termasuk kita. Memang beberapa konsep yang dibuat dan dikampanyekan Trump, termasuk latar belakangnya, agak membuat kita semua khawatir dan gerah. Tapi ya kita lihat saja ke depannya 🙂

    Dan aku rasa, sedikit banyak apa yang terjadi di Amerika sekarang mirip dengan apa yang terjadi di Indonesia, ketika pemilihan presiden di tahun 2014 lalu. Panas, dan menghasilkan dua kubu yang berbeda pendapat amat jauh ketika Presiden yang baru terpilih.

    • Memang mirip banget. Sama parahnya, mulai dari unfriend di media sosial sampai perang tweet. Teman-teman di sini juga pada gak mau ngomongin itu karena takut berantem. Beda banget sama Belanda. Mereka diskusi di meja makan soal politik kadang nyante dan bisa sih sewot tapi gak pernah sampe unfriend atau tweet-war..padahal ada karakter politisi yg kayak Trump di sana, malah udah bertahun-tahun lebih lama.

      Memang banyak yang gak suka sama Hillary sepertinya. Dia pernah terlibat beberapa skandal di masa karirnya sebagai politisi dan sepertinya ini membawa beban di kampanye. Dan memang di sini rata-rata masih konservatif, ih, bener deh, kadang ngingetin nilai-nilai di Indonesia banget. Jadi bisa kebayang dengan pandangan koleganya Bart yg dari Amerika. Mungkin mereka dari negara bagian sabuk merah (Republikan) juga ya..

      Di satu sisi, Amerika Serikat kan ada dua capres lain dari parpol independen, Liberal dan Hijau. Saya gak ngertinya sama org Amerika ini kenapa harus melulu fokus ke Republikan sama Demokrat padahal ada opsi untuk milih capes dari parpol independen.

      Pada akhirnya kembali ke prinsip hidup kita aja kali ya. Kalau saya pribadi susah untuk memilih figur publik seperti Trump yang dengan mudah menghina individu yang berbeda pendapat dan kelompok masyarakat tertentu. Mending kalau kebijakannya bagus. Lihat saja ke depannya, saya gak kaget kalau Amerika akan disebut sebagai negara berkembang kelak.

  4. All this turmoil so worrying – interested in your percentage statistic.
    Already abandon NATO – what does he have in mine
    Well we also have our problems of courses

    • Indeed..he was truly looking for attention to get the voters. I don’t think all of his promises can be done. That wall, for instance, it will be a disaster for the wildlife that live in the borders..

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