I never lived in the United States before business school, but I’ve followed US presidential politics since 2004 when an election event was held for students at the US embassy. This year’s electoral journey has been long and hard. For Americans. As an international student that got to the US just in time to experience the entire process, I have to say that this has been enlightening. Although, I’m more than ready to see the outcome.
I grew up in Nigeria, which until very recently had a multi-party system. So, I was very surprised to see that people had party loyalties that transcended election periods. The first time I heard classmates speak about being republican/democrat, I was quick to ask whether that was for the forthcoming elections or for the previous one. My questioning earned me an education on party policies, standards, and beliefs, which seemed to be as strong as religious affiliations where I come from.
Among my fellow Boothies, I have witnessed a lot of conversations around the elections, from people defending standpoints to debate viewing events that culminate in discussions around the future of the country. I have been impressed by classmates canvassing on behalf of parties and politicians (which never happens in my country, we do not like politicians).
For a different point of view, I asked one of my professors for his opinion on the elections. Professor Hurst‘s research on the economic impact of US labor and housing markets has been covered in numerous national publications. More recently, his work is helping to provide insights about some Americans’ political motivations and why they are seeking change.
“Through the lead up to this election, we have seen the impact of differences in economic progress across various demographic groups. There is a segment of the population that feels they have not participated in the country’s economic progress particularly within the last decade or so,” Professor Hurst says. “This group is frustrated with their current economic situation and see this election as a way to shake up the status quo. They are looking for change regardless of whether or not this change is good for them. Similar to the unexpected Brexit vote, these frustrations have fueled the rise of Trump and his ideologies.”
At Booth, diverse viewpoints are valued as there are many sides to everything and the best answers are vetted from all angles. While the question of who will become the next US president is going to be resolved by the end of the day, Professor Hurst notes that the underlying sentiments influencing this country’s citizens will continue on. “Regardless of the outcome of today’s election,” he went on to say, “these feelings are not going away. The next president will have to keep these issues in mind.”
As an international student in the US; a lot of the issues being discussed are issues that affect the world I know and live in. Of course, being amongst Boothies, I have never felt left out of the conversation and I’m happy to see the depth of details applied to the dialog.
I won’t be voting today (non-citizen), but for those of you who can, Booth’s 2015 Social New Venture Challenge winner, BallotReady, wants you to know how your ballot is like an iceberg. The online voter app/guide launched by Boothies has everything you need to know about the “bottom-ballot” candidates for your local elections.