US ELECTION 2020: why America’s drama is vital to young Brits like me

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First-year UoS Journalism student Reece Harper, 18, spent the evening at his Darlington home, watching events unfold in American – and explains why he feels the drama across the Atlantic is as important to UK teenagers like him as it is to voters in the States.

This election is not a remote event with no relevance to young people in the UK – quite the opposite, argues Reece Harper.
Photo: Jan Scheunert/Sipa USA


WHAT does it matter? We’re in England.” If I had to count how many times I’ve heard that on one hand, I’d need an extended holiday in Chernobyl.

The perception that one country’s politics doesn’t affect another is something that, the more you read and the more you learn, falls away: nations are inter-reliant, interwoven in policy, in action, and in belief.

‘The American Experiment’ is not just a catchphrase, it is not just a way for Americans to feel special as *the* nation that was built to ensure democracy and rights, it is the centrepiece of the ‘Western Liberal Order’, which has, through history, spread liberal values of individualism, rights, freedoms, and protections that many of us rely on, and that I personally feel as essential to my life.

I am set to be a journalist, a political journalist at that (historically one of the most ‘in the line of fire’ journalists, only overtaken in the modern era by investigative and conflict journalists), my partner is of the LGBTQIA+ community, I believe in pro-choice, in freedom of movement (which many people hope will one day be a global freedom), and socially conscious government protections for the disadvantaged and minorities. 

Because I believe all this, I fear Donald Trump in the White House.

Regardless of this result, I know that things are not suddenly changed here for me in England; I know that the Stasi are not going to suddenly reemerge in the North East and start knocking down doors, but I also know that America sets the tone for the liberal democracies of the west.

With Brexit being negotiated, and an American trade deal looking like a primary goal, I fear that Britain will bend to the will of American policy to ensure a deal, and Trump is essentially the opposite of all my beliefs since the beginning.

Trump’s Republican base is heavily pro-life, and he very much feels the same way; he has appointed a Supreme Court that many fear is going to tip the scales in favour of revoking certain LGBT rights; his nationalist rhetoric is the exact opposite of a free movement system; he has tried to actively damage and discourage Medicare and Medicaid, initiatives which are as close as the US has come to and NHS for those who cannot afford private healthcare.

This election matters to me, because every election matters everywhere; a butterfly flaps its wings in Poland, and a protest erupts in Hungary. 

Trump isn’t a small butterfly, he is a weight dropped into a full basin, and, if he makes it to the heart of government again, some of us will overflow and be washed away.

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