I have been living in Barranquilla, Colombia now for about two and a half years. Overall, my experience as an American here has been positive. The people I meet on the streets, in the local grocery stores, or out at restaurants have been welcoming and on most occasions, eager to help or briefly speak to me. As a very talkative people person, I usually try to have conversations with the locals. These conversations used to consist of the locals asking why I am here in Colombia and how long I am staying. However, recently those conversations have changed dramatically. Now, the first question people ask me when they realize I’m American is, “What do you think of Donald Trump?” or “Donald Trump?”
At first, I would laugh off the question and simply say I don’t support him, and nor will I be voting for him. But now, in June of an election year, my response has changed. Donald Trump has been winning most of the delegates, polling with high numbers in the Republican Party, and is the last Republican candidate standing. Therefore, he is the presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee. Now, I try to explain to people that I do not share his viewpoints, and I am embarrassed and saddened at how far he has made it in our electoral process.
I have spoken with many people from the Barranquilla region about this issue; people from many different backgrounds and ages. One person I’ve spoken with on many occasions brought up Donald Trump to me just this past weekend. He is a young man of maybe 19 or 20 years old who works as a lifeguard at our pool. Even though his English is not very good and my Spanish is far from perfect, he said to me in an inquiring manner, “Donald Trump?” On another occasion, at a child’s birthday party I attended, I was bombarded with Donald Trump questions by several people. It seems the whole world is watching the US presidential race and is intrigued by Donald Trump.
It is getting more and more embarrassing and harder and harder to defend the American public when Trump has supporters in the millions. As an expat living in the northern coastal region of Colombia, I would like to say I will not be supporting or voting for this man. As a presidential candidate, he lacks the qualities that appeal to me as a young American voter. For example, I want to know how Donald Trump will reduce our national debt, what his foreign policies are and how he can create American jobs. When people have posed these questions to Trump, they are either deflected with sound bites or answered with little substance. I don’t want to hear about building a wall between countries or his divisive rhetoric. I want to hear how a candidate can bring Americans together; united, not divided. I want to hear how a candidate can make the “American Dream” attainable to those who work hard.
To gain a better perspective, I decided to conduct a few interviews in a professional capacity and find out what the locals are thinking about the US presidential election. The people I spoke to come from three different generations and different backgrounds. I interviewed Dr. Jario Parada; a professor from Universidad Del Norte, Rodolfo Marin; a mechanical engineer, and Isabella Bolivar; a current college student. In all three interviews, I asked the same two questions; “What is your initial reaction to Donald Trump being the presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee?” and “What do you think of Americans now?”
My interview with Dr. Parada was more in-depth than the other two I conducted, and you can watch that full interview below. Nonetheless, the interview with Dr. Parada revealed that he was shocked; he is shocked that Donald Trump is running for president of the United States of America, he is shocked that he is still in the race, and he is shocked that people are coming out in the masses to support him. In interviewing Mr. Marin, he had a few choice words about the situation.
He thinks Donald Trump is not intelligent and will never make it all the way to the Oval Office. Rudolfo Marin has more faith in the American people and believes they are smart enough not to elect such a “stupid man.” In the same way, Isabella Bolivar was rather blunt when I interviewed her. She acknowledges that Donald Trump must be a good businessman because he has built an empire, but said, “He has no idea of politics and has made a fool of himself throughout the entire political race and has no idea what he is talking about or doing. He hasn’t been consistent and would make a terrible president for the United States and the world since a lot of countries depend on the US.” I think Isabella summed up well what most logical people are thinking in the US and around the world. Just bringing up Donald Trump and the US presidency in the same sentence lit a fire in this young Barranquilla’s mind. Like many, she is frustrated and annoyed.
I, like many other Americans I know who are living abroad or visiting other countries right now, am constantly questioned about the American presidential election and how Donald Trump can be considered a good candidate for the US Presidency. Now is the perfect time to explain to people around the world our democratic electoral process and how any US citizen can run for the presidency as long as he or she meets the few qualifications outlined in our constitution. As uncomfortable as I am with Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, it is still a right he has to run for president. In the same way, as an American citizen, no matter where I am in the world, I have the right to vote against him.
For a more learned perspective, I interviewed Dr. Jairo, an economics professor at UniNorte: