The United States Presidential election is a highly discussed subject of choice among friends and family members in the country.
But, what is the climate like outside of America? I asked my cousin, Kathleen, who was born in Long Island and moved overseas to the Netherlands three years ago. With the election less than a month away, here’s what she says about perspectives from the Dutch regarding this hot topic.
When did you move to Amsterdam and why?
I moved to Amsterdam in 2017 with my husband. I had the opportunity via my job (I work for a large, global restaurant brand) to transfer from their HQ where I worked for eight years in their European branch headquartered in Amsterdam. It’s been terrific so far and I am very happy – but it has also been a LOT of work. Adapting to a new culture, making friends, learning a new language, learning another lifestyle takes more dedication than I thought. I am at the stage though where we are settled in and feeling very adapted/immersed in the Dutch culture.
What is the political climate like in the Netherlands?
If we are talking about non-US politics – the political climate is calm, with a few touches regarding global issues that affect everyone and the decisions made over them. Brexit is a topic that affects the EU and for awhile, it was the largest topic here to discuss. The Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. inspired a series of peaceful protests here in cities, which brought new light to race issues in the Netherlands. Coronavirus, of course, is the biggest focus these days, and it is stressful for everyone. Regarding interest in U.S. politics, the election is the largest topic for discussion.
Do the Dutch have an opinion on the US election? What seems to be the general consensus if there is one?
They do. I was surprised to find they are EXTREMELY knowledgeable about the U.S. government, its people, and the upcoming election. I would say the general consensus is first a criticism of the U.S. government/election structure overall, and how outdated or unrealistic it is for a workable government. The second is, most people do not take the U.S. President seriously due to how outlandish, unintelligent and erratic he can be. But at times, the Dutch agree with his ideas. I find that interesting, they tend to be able to separate a personality from a policy. The overall consensus is that American politics are messy, the current situation makes it appear even messier and the U.S. needs major changes to regain respect from the global community.
How do you feel as an American observing the election from across the globe?
For me, I enjoy reading or observing, but I am slightly detached from it all. I have a bit of luxury to not participate in watching election coverage or discussing it, but it is far less in your face here. There have been a few moments when I am watching election coverage in the U.S. and feel sad. The most recent debate (the first Presidential debate 2020,) for example, was hard to watch. It made me feel embarrassed. There were people here that found the debate humorous due to it being totally chaotic, but for me, it just made me feel awful that this is how America is representing itself to the outside world. There are some bright spots: when I see the news and how caring and loving some Americans are towards one another, particularly during the coronavirus situation, it reminds me that Americans are so kind and just need a political system and representatives that support them better.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Here in the Netherlands, the political system allows people to truly immerse themselves in voting. It is considered “”weird”” not to vote or not to get out there and share your opinion and your voice. It is remarkable to watch and admire how proud and involved they are in voting. I wish Americans had the same approach, and I encourage everyone to get out there and vote. Let your voice be heard!