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Foreigners comment on election process

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Written by: Klaire Tan

“In Venezuela, a bottle of water is more expensive than a bottle of gasoline,” senior Yarisay Mendoza said, emphasizing the importance of addressing economic issues in the presidential debates. “Here, gasoline is so expensive. Everything is so expensive. [America] needs someone who can control and resolve the current financial problems. ”

With news of the 2012 presidential election currently dominating media outlets, many foreign students have begun paying attention to the U.S. election.  One such student is Venezuelan native Mendoza, who moved to America only two months ago. According to Mendoza, the U.S. presidential election is very different from elections back in Venezuela, where people rarely have the opportunity


to freely express their opinions because elections are controlled by the government. “Talking about politics [in Venezuela] is risky,” she said. “If you aren’t with the president, then it will be hard to find a job and make a living. It’s amazing that here, people can come and give their opinion about Obama and Romney.”

For Mendoza, election time back in Venezuela usually means witnessing government workers flood the streets with election propaganda supporting the current president Hugo Chavez. However, real communication between candidates and the populace is rarely established. As a result, Mendoza witnessed her first presidential debate only after moving to America. “In Venezuela, they don’t have presidential debates,” she said. “The officials only talk to the people if they want to.

Similar to Mendoza, sophomore Zhiran Chen believes that presidential debates are a valuable mean for  government officials to communicate


directly with the people. Chen moved to the United States from China six months ago. According to Chen, elections in China are decided by the government, not by the people. In addition, the general population is not given the opportunity to communicate with government officials. “In America, I actually feel like the government is working with the people,” Chen said. “The government seems to try to solve the problems of people’s everyday lives, and the politicians seem to be close to the people. In China, I don’t feel like the government is supposed to work for the people.”

However, while Chen supports the emphasis of public involvement in U.S. elections, she feels that in campaigns, candidates focus more on garnering votes than actually addressing the concerns of the people. “I like having candidates interact with us in debates because people can ask them questions directly,” Chen said. “However, the candidates seem to try really hard to get votes. They just want to win the election, and I feel like they don’t really answer the questions.”

In addition, Chen finds that elections could be run more efficiently without the excessive campaigning which she believes prevents officials from dealing with national issues. “I feel like elections are a waste of time and money,” she said. “Candidates always spend a lot of effort advertising themselves.”

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Foreigners comment on election process