A few days ago, I asked my students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou, China to watch the third Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I was very curious to see their reaction because such political debates are rare in China.
My students were impressed with the fact that a woman may soon hold the highest elected office in America. Many of my students commented that there may never be a woman president in China. They stated that it would be near impossible for a woman to be even considered for that high an honor in their country’s one party system.
None of my students were impressed with Donald Trump. They feel he was insulting during the three debates and not very polished as a politician.
Some of my students are under the opinion that our two presidential candidates lack moral leadership and they seem to be degrading the American political process. A prevailing sentiment among most of my students is that Americans are being forced to vote for the candidate they feel is the less of the two evils.
What is interesting is that here in China the Chinese government regularly criticizes U.S. presidential elections to legitimize its one-party system. My students seem to be echoing what is being said in China’s mainstream media.
The scandals and intense competition between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are now the focal points for the Chinese media. Some of my students feel that the American political process especially in the 2016 presidential race is making America look weak due to its lack of moral standing in the world.
Many Chinese commentators viewed the three presidential debates between our two White-house contenders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump as the nastiest debates in modern US history. They reflect the decay of our American political system and the dumbing down of our American society.
The Chinese media is using this election year to force the Chinese people to rethink the value of the democratic process. The media here in China is portraying America as extremely self-confident but arrogant in its preaching for a democratic world order. Most people here view the American political process as dysfunctional. They point out that the 2016 presidential election is highlighting the chaotic defects within our American electoral process.
The Chinese news agencies are also reporting that money and party elites can and have manipulated the American presidential elections. They also point out that regardless of whether Trump wins or loses, he has irreversibly damaged US democracy and our country’s standing in the world. In other words, nations throughout the world will have a hard time taking America seriously.
The debates became a platform for personal attacks rather than substance or addressing the serous issues facing our country.
The Chinese media has become very effective in portraying the American political process as a race to the bottom with a systemic moral decay. “The 2016 presidential election has made one thing clear,” one government official was quoted as saying, “the U.S. needs political reform.” The comment mirrors our American sentiment advocating for political reform in China.
There are still many people, in China, that would like to see their country become more democratic and open to a multiparty system. That growing sentiment is what the Chinese Government fears the most. The Government in China is using our 2016 Presidential election as a means of propaganda to curb the growing democratic enthusiasm among the Chinese people.
America is not a perfect country, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton are flawed individuals but our democracy will always be the best form of government.
America was and still is a great country, a beacon of hope, and a land of great opportunity. If that were not the case, immigrants, from across the globe would not be coming to America to fulfill their dreams for a better life and future. There is still room for reform in America but democracy will always be the cornerstone to our country’s greatness.
The 2016 presidential election is truly an historical event because, in my opinion, on November the 8th America will elect its first woman president.
What kind of leader will our first woman President be?
Only time will tell …….
- Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
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