Nov. 6 politics are in the air. California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students are following developments, whether or not they are of age and eligible to vote, or non-voting international students. The results of the upcoming U.S. Congressional midterm elections – held halfway between presidential elections – are important as they will determine which political party, Republican or Democrat, will control Congress for the next two years. Voters will elect all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of all U.S. senators including California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, one of the 33 up for election.
Regardless of personal preference for the blue or red or purple of the political spectrum, the results of the upcoming election will impact legislation – social, environmental and economic – judicial appointments, district gerrymandering and U.S. international protocols, policies and relations for years to come.
CSUMB international students were interviewed and asked their perspective on the upcoming election. Without exception, each referenced the important impact the U.S. has on the rest of the world on the micro, as well as the macro level, and on individual students preparing for their future as well as countries as a whole.
“The U.S. is the lion and the rest of the world is holding on to its tail,” said Haoyii Lim, a fourth year Cinematic Arts student from Malaysia. Although already a second year student when U.S. Executive Order 13769 was initiated, and Malaysia was not listed as a country banned from receiving U.S. visas, “The change in the air was evident, the personal and regional unease that resulted was notable,” stated Lim.
Another area of concern shared by Lim is the status and treatment of women in the current political sphere, particularly as most of his CSUMB professors who he holds in high respect are female. He recalls staying up all night with his American friends, each with strong opinions, watching the results of the last presidential election.
“When the U.S. sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold” is a geopolitical idiom ascribed to 19th century Austrian diplomat, Metternich, and is still used in today’s financial markets to describe economic dominoes. Although not previously familiar with the term, Riya Soe, a third-year Business and Accounting major from Myanmar who is fluent in four languages, agrees, “What takes place in the U.S., especially the economics – the sub-prime rate set by the Federal Reserve, the exchange rate of the dollar and trade – not only has direct repercussions on the finances and education of students studying in the U.S., but also on their future job and professional options. Economics drive politics, and for that reason alone, it is important to follow U.S. elections.”
Keyur Panchal, a second year Business Administration major from India with plans to continue studies in graduate school, pointed out that decisions that impact finances are important, such as laws that support employment options for citizens and non-citizens alike, as the U.S. is the world center for many industries and we live in a global market. “The laws for international students currently seem quite good, but there are not many options for off-campus employment for students who want to be more independent,” stated Panchal, “I plan to watch the results of the upcoming election.”
The election is important because, “People need to be concerned more about people,” stated Keigo Numazawa, a second year student from Japan studying English and undertaking weekly service learning with the homeless community, “I was surprised to see people who have so many basic needs in an area that has so much – the community should do whatever it can to help those in need. That is why government is important.”