“This is the first time we have something that extreme in the US”

By Anna Portella


Name: Emmanuel Charles

Age: 28

Occupation: Student of the MA in Urban design

Hometown: Omaha (Nebraska)

Current location: Groningen

Fed up with headlines, comments, news and TV shows parodying the two stars of the play, we think we know everything about the 2016 US elections.

For once, though, let’s forget all these media chatter and go back to basics -How would our American alter ego see this campaign from the other side of the Atlantic?

Emmanuel Charles, a normal and ordinary student, shares his impressions.

He or she?

Hillary! I have already sent my vote.

So the New York Times will already count on you in the polls.

Yes, and my mother, my father and grandparents.

A blue-party family.

For the first time in my life the three generations are going to vote for the same party. My grandparents are from Nebraska, a typical republican state, and they have always voted for the Republican party. They haven’t changed because of Clinton, but because of Trump.

He is really powerful indeed, then.

Yes, he is making America great again!

At least, more united.

My grandma says: “We don’t know what is gonna come out of his mouth.” Clinton is the only reasonable option.

Vote by default, you mean?

It’s not a bad choice, I am not excited but I like her. She is an old-school democrat and she is in the conservative side of the party, but it is good to see a woman president.


It shows that anyone can do anything. The same as Barak Obama, if a black guy can be president, a black guy can do anything.

But the country now seems more divided and racist than ever…

I don’t think the president can really solve this problem, it’s hard to fix it from the very top. Otherwise, Barak Obama would have had to act like an authoritarian-like president.

What is the pole position of the main issues the new president will have to face?

Income inequality, in the first place.

How big is the income-gap in your hometown?

I am from Omaha (Nebraska). There lower-incomers make roughly 12,000 dollars per year. And the higher…well, Warren Buffet lives in Omaha…

Ok, I tell a big difference. The second place is for…

Police shootings to black people. I’m black and that turns me automatically suspicious. The Netherlands is a free country, here police don’t mess with you.

Why should they?

I have friends in the US that while driving their cars the police have halted, pulled them over and registered them. They use drugs as an excuse. It is very rare to see the police in the streets and be relaxed. Most of the times, when you have a problem, you don’t know if it’s better or not to call them. It makes no sense.

Besides, here police sometimes wear plain clothes or go with those green outfits, not such black ones to reinforce that they are the authority, as those that the American police wear.

Here on Saturday night you can see the mounted police…

I have seen people smoking a joints and drinking a beer and actually talking to them! In the US, if police see you drunk you will provably be rebuked.

And the bronze medal?

I’d like to see more progressive laws like those here in the Netherlands. For example, with drugs.

Are we still talking about the most important problems that the US faces nowadays?

What I mean is that I’d like to see a different attitude in that sense.

What do you think of Trump?

In the beginning of the primaries I thought he was hilarious. But I was worried when he adopted the racist speech. It took long for me to accept his nomination. This is the first time we have something that extreme in the US.

But if he has succeeded in the business field, why he cannot succeed as a president?

I don’t believe in the idea that government is business, I don’t think a good CEO makes a good president. Business is about making money, but government is about improving people’s lives.

That’s curious, because the image we have from Americans is that of pro-business minded and state-averse people.

That’s the classic debate between Democrats and Republicans. But what is interesting from this elections is that Donald Trump is starting to change the struggle business versus government by mixing both speeches.

Do you see your people surprised?

Yes because this election is like a TV show. In the previous ones, at least you could have a reasonable debate. Now Donald Trump only say terrible things like building a wall. They don’t talk about what happens with Russia or the refugees.

The positive side is that democrats may gain more votes and can make a more progressive government.

How are you living this from Groningen?

This elections are strange to me because I am looking at it from the distance and that makes me think: “We look so stupid!”. It’s embarrassing, and kind of comical.

Are you surprised with the expectation generated in the Netherlands?

There is something that is hard for me to discern: is that you’re following it because how extraordinary this election is or is it normal?

Front pages are about American elections, and every time I meet somebody and I say I am American the first thing they say is “Donald Trump”.

Is that annoying?

No, but it would be nice if it were a different conversation sometimes.

Sorry for my part…

I wish there were something with more substance that we could talk about, for example about the educational reform. Here in the Netherlands it’s awesome! All the parties actually debate about issues and try to find solutions.

What would have changed if you were in the US?

I would probably be more angry there, because I would know people voting for Trump. What surprises me most is that people vote him!

Why do you think that happens?

Because people that are republican just vote for their party candidate, which I don’t think that’s a really good reason.

Also, there are people that agree what he is saying.

Do you mean that for some people walls are attractive?

Unfortunately he is attracting people with populist messages, like “I’m gonna bring more jobs to America.”

Finally… why you call yourselves Americans?

It’s the name of the country.

What about Colombians, Mexicans, etc.?

True… I don’t know, maybe it’s just a language thing…

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