An outsider’s dismay

Marcellinus Ojjinaka

I have followed the U.S. presidential campaign so far with dismay. Having viewed American politics for a long time as the time-tested example of political aspiration, practice and conduct, I find it disconcerting to witness the current ills perpetrated by both campaigns.

Similarities abound in my home country, Nigeria, even if in softer hues: voter suppression in the form of identification being required to vote even when no significant cases of fraud had been established; reducing early registration windows in districts that favor an opposition candidate; outright lies and misinformation by both campaigns, as witnessed again in Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC convention; hypocrisy in criticizing the same measures they once advocated, and in demanding smaller government while championing government involvement in more private matters; refusal/inability to provide details on promises being made; a polarized, uncooperative congress publicly pursuing personal vendettas even if the populace suffers as a result. The list seems endless.

In the final analysis, I won’t have a say on how the election turns out, being an alien, but it has certainly impacted the way I view American politics. And unfortunately for my sense of fairness, it has made me less likely to criticize these wrongs when they happen back home. If it can happen here, where democracy has been in practice for over two hundred years, it is definitely acceptable for politicians to do worse in a nascent democracy such as we have in Nigeria. America shouldn’t be seen as shying away from leadership — in political climate, practice and conduct. Seeking political office should be done with the utmost sense of responsibility to one’s self, one’s country and to future generations. It shouldn’t always be about winning or losing. Therein lies the problem.

— Ojjinaka is a mechanical engineering graduate student from Imo, Nigeria.