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International relations did not rank in top half of voter issues this election season

December 4, 2020
Illustration by Daena Faustino.
Illustration by Daena Faustino.

Students have a lot of different factors to consider when casting their vote for the presidential election. For the recent Nov. 3 elections, the issue of international relations ranked low on the priority list.

According to a study published by Gallup, only 21% of citizens find foreign affairs “extremely important,” when voting, and a mere 18% would say the same about trade with other nations. These two issues, both associated with international relations, were ranked 14th and 15th of 16 issues, only slightly ahead of LGBTQ rights, which ranked last

For creative advertising and psychology junior Lauren Veldboom, American exceptionalism, the idea that American ideals are unique and praiseworthy, might play a role.

"I think other Americans should (care) because here in America we are a very individualistic, patriotic country, and sometimes we forget to zoom out of our perspective and see how we in the U.S. is part of a cohesive world full of countries, like a global network,” Veldboom said. "What we do and provide for other countries matters just as much as what they do for us.”  

Psychology senior Chloe Zhang shared similar ideas, based on what she has observed as a Chinese citizen. 

“Not trying to be stereotypical but Americans are ignorant because they don’t really care about things that happen outside of the country," Zhang said.

Zhang also shared her concerns regarding the election, and the possible policies that could be put into place for international students like her.

"This year (Trump’s) immigration policy toward international students (was) really upsetting for international students," she said.

For other students, the topic of international relations is important but not a top concern. 

“I think they probably should (care) to some extent because it’s probably pretty important," human biology junior Hannah Visser said.

For Visser, her minimal concerns about international relations do not stem from a place of not caring, but rather, from a lack of information. 

Public policy sophomore Matt Sturt shared similar thoughts, although he believes he is very informed on the issue, with a minor in international development.

"I'd consider it, but I don't think I'd rank it very high," Sturt said. "Something like immigration, I don't know if that's so cut and dry. Immigration is a big thing."

Aside from immigration issue, Sturt shared mixed feelings about the "America first" mentality.

"It goes back and forth. Should we be the world's babysitter versus 'America first.'" Sturt said. "That's a big conservative monologue. ... All in all, I think people should focus on (international relations). I think if you're going to choose 'America first,' do 'America first,' but if not, you really need to look at the nuance and issue of everything."

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