My complicated relationship with America

I still remember that morning so vividly, sitting in an armchair in my parent’s living room, staring at the television screen in disbelief, not completely believing what I was seeing. The morning was November 9th, 2016, and Donald Trump had just won the presidential election. I had awakened in the middle of the night to watch the election broadcast, the idea being to celebrate the victory of Hillary Clinton, the first female president of the United States, since surely she would win. The different election forecasts had estimated that it would be a tight race but that Clinton would be the front-runner. I was devastated when the opposite happened, and the American people had just elected a president who represented everything that I personally did not believe in, nor I thought the American people would believe. It was this morning that burst my idealistic bubble about America that I had been living in. Now, as an American Studies student, I can better understand the complicated nature of the country and why the election of 2016 and many other events after that turned out in a certain way, and what kind of underlying reasons are behind them.

When thinking about how my idealistic view of America started to develop, I cannot emphasize enough the role that different American tv-series and movies have played in this process. In many ways, these mediums have offered me a portrayal of America, where all of these not-so-pleasant sides of the country were hidden, outside of my field of vision. In school, our history classes did not really focus on American history other than talking about its role during both world wars, which at the time left a gap in my knowledge about America. However, it is also true that I have not always followed American politics that closely, which only started to shift during 2016 when the already mentioned U.S. presidential elections caught my attention.

The 2016 presidential election was the moment when my idealistic image regarding America changed permanently. As an American Studies student, I have been following America more closely than ever before, and if Trump’s presidency burst this bubble I had been living in, the university studies, together with the news that I have been reading, have made me throw my previous images to the trash bin. Since Trump’s presidency, it has become increasingly evident of just how conservative country the United States can be. No, conservatism is not a new phenomenon, but some developments during recent years are still sometimes hard to understand. For example, the Supreme Court has removed the federal-level right to abortion that a clear majority of Americans have supported, school boards are censoring library books that discuss LGBTQ people, race, and gender, and Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, the possible Republican candidate for the next presidential election, is currently worried about educating girls about their periods, in addition to all other non-sense that he has been advancing recently. Putting these kinds of developments together, I suppose it is no wonder why the current political atmosphere feels like a reversal of progress towards a society that could soon be unrecognizable if conservatives keep taking these victories.

Sometimes there are things in the world that you cannot fully explain, even if you wanted to. My deep interest in America is one of them. Even if I could give a handful of different reasons that might help explain some of it, there is still something fundamental left that I cannot illustrate. Even though I have recently been feeling much negativity towards America, and especially towards particular political figures, it has not made my interest disappear. Maybe even the opposite has happened. But perhaps this is also one part that attracts me and why I originally wanted to study American Studies. It truly is a never-ending interest to me. At the same time, I am aware that the country is not fully run by Trumpist Republicans who would like to take their country to some cold, dark place. Instead, America is full of people who believe in liberal democracy and want to make America a shining example for other nations to follow, and the people themselves are one of the most pleasant I have met in my life, and the list goes on. The point is that there is also much to like about America, even with its problems. Nevertheless, at least one thing remains clear; I will not be planning a vacation in Florida anytime soon.


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