Brits seem to think there are only two can­di­dates for the pres­i­dency. When my con­ver­sa­tions at Oxford Uni­versity turn to American pol­itics, 9 times out of 10 I am asked: “Who are you voting for? Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders?”
The European con­ception of American pol­itics is slightly laughable. While these two pres­i­dential can­di­dates seem to incur the most media cov­erage, I can cer­tainly say that neither will be receiving my vote — a response that shocks most people. Euro­peans are amazed that our elec­tions are not held until Nov. 2016, yet cam­paign machinery has been in motion since early 2015. Some people thought our elec­tions already took place and Obama won again because “there is no way that there could be this much media cov­erage for an event so far away.”

I am amazed how many people I meet abroad see Trump and Sanders as the only two options for American pres­ident. Trump is viewed as ridiculous, but probable; Sanders is hailed as a visionary. My primary tutor at Oxford described the con­ception of the political climate in the U.S. as “very con­ser­v­ative and far more right than any European would feel com­fortable with.” Sanders pro­motes social­istic policies, more like ones found in Europe.

Trump epit­o­mizes what Euro­peans think American gov­ernment is like. They see our politi­cians as loud, gaudy, out­ra­geous, and cocky. Trump fits that stereotype per­fectly. No one really knows about any other Repub­lican can­di­dates, like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, or Ben Carson.

Bernie Sanders adheres more to the European way of thinking with his big gov­ernment ideas and nation­alized systems. While dis­cussing American pol­itics with my sec­ondary tutor over a pint, he described Sanders as a “breath of fresh air to the staunch envi­ronment of American pol­itics.” Sanders is the can­didate many Euro­peans would like to become Pres­ident of the United States. However, Trump is the can­didate they believe will win and will make for “bloody good enter­tainment.”

When I inform whoever I am speaking with that I am actually more fis­cally con­ser­v­ative and tend to lean more towards the Repub­lican party, they assume that I am voting for Trump — an assumption I quickly correct. However, they think that Trump could win our election for Pres­ident and they would love to see it happen! It appears that since Trump gets the most cov­erage, he must be winning.

People seem to be offended that as a young, American female I would dare support a can­didate such as Rand Paul or Marco Rubio (even though they have no idea who they are). I quickly defend my views, pointing out how the GOP is not all “old, sexist, racist white men.” I’m cer­tainly not ashamed to be an American; I am quite proud, and being in Europe has only affirmed my love for my own country.

But I do think that the American political system needs to be heavily re-eval­uated if we want to be taken seri­ously. America is a major world power, but we don’t always act like one. Our mud-slinging political races and loud politi­cians do not give us a respectable image. Two of the most extreme can­di­dates from either side for pres­ident are the most well-known inter­na­tionally. No one focuses on the issues at hand, like America’s debt, but rather on the absurdist claims like the building of a wall between Mexico and the U.S. or free college tuition for all. Trying to con­vince Euro­peans that a young, fis­cally con­ser­v­ative, American female exists and holds plau­sible views is way harder than I expected.

When I don’t want to discuss pol­itics, I fake a British accent and talk about rugby.