I never thought the U.S. could be so divided that I had to talk to my friends back in China to understand Americans’ thinking.
Watching this historical election as an insider — as well as an outsider — was a difficult but incredible experience. In the U.S., I was surrounded by friends, professors, politicians and media that are anti-Trump. They are typically young and/or well-educated. They have devoted or are going to devote their careers to making the world a better place.
They speaks multiple languages, travel internationally, have glorious dreams, and work hard to achieve them. They find Trump a liar, a sexist, a racist, and a narcissist. They thought Trump would never win the election.
Outside of the U.S., I faced friends and family in China who don’t have a vote, but are very curious about the U.S. during this election. On this issue, the most popular social media in China is dominated by Chinese who immigrated to America and are mostly Trump supporters.
They wrote posts in Chinese in support of Trump and spread their words on Wechat, the largest social media in the worldwide Chinese community. These posts were persuasive and convinced many Chinese that voting for Trump was patriotic because his campaign rhetoric focused on benefits to Americans: eliminate illegal immigrants, stop foreigners from stealing job from Americans, etc.
When those two completely different media streams come into play — what I see and read in the U.S. and what I see and read in Chinese — I find it difficult to position myself. As a young woman with higher education, I understand that Trump’s policies will add more uncertainties to the future, and that he could truly be a threat to the United States and the world. I checked Fox News and Wechat after every presidential debate, I read the comments on Facebook against Trump. The more I read, the more I thought how dangerous his policies could be, based on what he said during the campaign.
On the other hand, I also realize that I am disconnected from the rest of the United States, even the Chinese-American community. By talking to my Chinese friends, I realized that I have been living in a bubble among young progressive people in Washington, D.C. whose focus is on climate change, women’s rights, same-sex marriage, and equal rights for all races. More importantly, I myself have taken it for granted and thought it was what the whole America has become. Clearly, it is not.
I deeply believe that the U.S. democracy is still the greatest around the world, and Trump’s victory only reveals temporary problems this country faces. And personally, having witnessed this election in the United States is an unforgettable, unique, life experience.