By Anthony Hill
SANTIAGO, Chile – Donald J. Trump is now the President-elect of the United States of America and many American expats were watching the election coverage live from Santiago, Chile Tuesday.
The race to the White House between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was marked by ugly rhetoric and personal attacks, making this one of the most divisive presidential campaign seasons in recent history.
On election night, many American expats living in Chile stayed up throughout the night as electoral votes were being counted. “He [Trump] was leading in the polls before I went to sleep,” said Chris Phipps, an American expat from Bordentown, New Jersey, teaching English in Santiago. “However, I assumed – much like the media was portraying – that Clinton was going to slowly close the gap and eventually overtake him.”
Many of the nation’s leading polling centers put Clinton ahead of Trump, saying she would most likely go on to be the next president. This was one of the reasons why many Americans living in Chile were surprised to wake up to the news that Trump had won the election.
It was almost impossible for Americans living on the mainland to escape the influences and political drama leading up to election day, but for Americans living in Chile, they had to work a little harder to stay informed. “Instead of being surrounded by news coverage and almost unable to escape it – like the scene normally is in the States – I did have to seek out coverage to stay updated,” said Phipps. Phipps went on to tell the Santiago Times that it was nice to not be bombarded with political-campaign ads.
Trump has made several comments that many believe to be divisive such as building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and banning the entry of Muslims into the country. “His feelings toward immigration and women’s rights did not match my views on the matter,” said Phipps.
These comments and the election results have also come between family members. Shannon Fell, an expat from Detroit living in Chile, told the Santiago Times that this presidential race has put her and her family at odds with each other. “I totally disagree with my family on this matter,” said Fell. She is concerned that a Trump presidency means it will be more difficult for her husband, who is Chilean, to go to the United States.
“Trump was a candidate who gathered supporters by targeting their hate and fear,” said Aneesha Raines, who is a software engineer from Chicago working in Santiago. Raines told the Santiago Times that as an African American, she felt betrayed by those who voted for Trump. “We assumed that it was the uneducated masses who supported Trump, but there were plenty of educated people who voted for him.”
Though Trump had opponents, he also had many supporters. Many of his supporters were those who were tired of career politicians and the Washington establishment. They saw Trump as an outsider who could get things done in Washington. They rallied around his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”, in hopes that Trump could change the way Washington and the country was run.
Trump won 290 electoral votes, 20 more than what is necessary to win the presidency. However, Clinton won the popular vote, making this the third time in U.S. history where the candidate who won the popular vote did not go on to win the election. The last time this happened was back in 2000 when Al Gore recieved the popular vote, but lost the race against President George W. Bush.
Now that the election is over, many expats are looking to the future hoping that a Trump presidency means a more properous country. “If Trump works hard to make everyone feel included as a vital part of the country and increases domestic production and reduces our dependency on foreign goods, he could potentially increase the amount of pride we have in our country,” said Phipps.
At 70 years old, Trump will go on to become the oldest serving president in U.S. history. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president on Friday, January 20, 2017 in Washington D.C., a stone’s throw away from his new house.