Lessons for us from US elections

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

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Donald Trump. The mere mention of his name prompts tears of laughter. His looks, his words, his policies: everything about him screams comedy.

But the jokes are quickly fading as we face a shocking truth: Trump appears to be winning the Republican race. What began as a satirical parody has led to a result that is both unexpected and saddening.

The issue surrounding this presidential candidate is so important for us in the UK because firstly America is our closest ally and secondly we rely heavily on their economy. Without a suitable government there will, inevitably, be instability on the global markets. If we mock Trump it means we are not seriously considering his policies. And without a proper debate we cannot comprehend the impact that his presidency would have on the world.

We witnessed something similar last year in the general election with the UKIP party: people laughing at Nigel Farage, calling UKIP supporters racists, and making endless jokes about his policies. Yet this was responded to with even stronger support for UKIP. Even here in Bury St Edmunds, a Conservative safe seat, UKIP received 15 per cent of the votes.

Laughing at a party does not improve the situation. If anything it worsens it. People can feel bitter as they feel it unacceptable for the party they support to be undermined.

With Donald Trump being laughed at more on American news sites, there are (however strange it may seem) more people agreeing with his policies. We may think it ridiculous but a larger number of people are attracted to the man who ‘speaks his mind and is anti-establishment’. It is worth noting that children also speak their mind, but this does not mean we would elect a child. But surely we should be educating people rather than just laughing at their arguments.

Donald Trump is funding his own campaign. Why is this dangerous? Because his views can be as radical as he wants. If a politician says something inappropriate, a sponsor can withdraw funding. He can continue to promote his ideas unhindered as there are no sponsors who can quash his policies. He can spout whatever he wants and there will not be a proper discussion about its consequences.

So rather than laugh when someone mentions Trump’s name, let’s think about the problems rooted deep within a culture that attracts people to his radical ideas.

Rather than chuckle when he talks of his ridiculous wall on the Mexican border, let’s listen to some of his other more sensible policies. Because it is often these other policies, such as higher spending on the armed forces, that seem attractive. Let’s understand and respect their opinion, while recognising that they are voting for someone we have doubts about.

We can learn a lot from the state of American politics. We need a better platform for discussion and a population better educated with political policies. Whether we educate people with someone as inexperienced as me writing about it or through more mediated debates we can learn a lot from America’s political crisis – if only to make sure it does not happen here.

-- Georgia Walker is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds