Far from familiar: ‘It affects us all’

International student talks politics, Trump rally


Alyssa Smith

Sandrita Sanabria, a junior international student and international studies major, listens to assistant professor of political science Nicholas LaRowe as he begins his Introduction to American Politics class Tuesday in the Liberal Arts building.

The Shield interviewed three international students to see how they were acclimating to life at a U.S. university. In this weekly series, The Shield revisits Sandrita Sanabria, a junior international studies major from Paraguay, to find out her opinion on U.S. politics and her experience at a Donald Trump Rally.

The Shield: What was your experience at a political rally like?

Sanabria: (My friends and I) just went for the experience. We do not support him. We just went there because we thought it would be different from just watching it on TV, and it was weird. This is one of the craziest elections you have had in a long time and Trump is definitely one of your most popular controversial candidates, so we went there to watch and see how it works.

It was pretty crazy. In my opinion, the reason Trump is so popular is because there are Americans who are going through economic difficulties and people are just looking for someone to save them. Trump gives this image that he is confident and has a big background, so most people get led by his charisma, not by what he says. When we went there, everything he would talk about was how he was leading in the polls, and that he was going to build his famous wall, and that Mexicans were going to pay for it.

He mentioned that Mexico’s former president said something about him being racist and he was like, “That wall just got 10 feet taller.” I mean, he talked about how he doesn’t think Obamacare is a good health system, and about how he was going to have a new one and it’s going to be much better. But he never mentioned how he was going to do that.

He has the ability to talk anger and outrage, and because people are feeling this way, they just let Trump influence them. Trump portrays that, and during his rally, he has people yelling and screaming and you have people telling him, “Hey, I love you Donald Trump,” like 15-year-old girls saying it.

Then you have this 60-year-old man or 70-year-old man telling him he loves him… He never said anything logical. It was all about emotions and there were some people who came in and said something opposing Trump, and he just started yelling at them and said, “Get them out.” He got violent, and I think that if that had happened in the street, the police would have intervened. But because it was Trump’s rally, nothing happened.

The Shield: What is your opinion of U.S. politics?

Sanabria: If we are talking just about the presidential elections for November, first of all, it’s hard to follow because your election system is different than ours. I’m taking Introduction to American Politics, so I kind of understand it better. But at the beginning, it was hard to understand how you guys vote because you don’t directly vote for your president, you have to go through the electoral college. So learning your electoral system was the first part. I heard it’s not always this crazy, but this year, for some reason, it got crazier. Whoever gets to the White House, they are not only going to rule America, but influence other countries. America is one of the bigger countries and maybe the most influential one. So I think definitely what happens in America doesn’t stay in America. It affects us all somehow.

The Shield: What are the differences between politics in Paraguay and the U.S.?

Sanabria: You have a winner-takes-all scenario. You pick one person to win, and in Paraguay, it’s proportional representation. We have whoever gets into legislature and it’s more proportional. It’s different. We do have two big parties back home that kind of regulate, but here, you have Republican and Democrat and they have two very different ideologies — totally opposite. In Paraguay, although we have these two big parties, I wouldn’t say they differ a lot in their ideologies. If people vote, it’s for tradition. They join a party for tradition.

The Shield: Is there a candidate you think would make a good president?

Sanabria: I don’t really have a preference. I wouldn’t say Trump, definitely not, because he is so ruthless and there is so much hate in his words, to the point that when we went to the rally, I had two German friends who went with me, and my Russian friend and we split during the rally, so we could push ourselves to the front. The Germans left before the rally ended because, for them, they had a nasty history and they grow up listening to people saying, “You never do this again and you need to think logically and need to respect others.” And hearing Trump for them was hard. I could feel how much hate was in his words and everything and for them, it was even harder because of their history and background. They left the room before he finished.

The Shield: Would you say you are a fan of politics?

Sanabria: I like politics. I’ve never been interested in politics before, and then a year ago, I had a couple of good professors back home that got me into it. There’s a quote they said that really made me interested in politics, and it says something like: “Even if you don’t take part in or get into politics, politics will affect you. Politics are in everything, from laws to health systems to when you are able to drive. They control monopolies. They are in everything.” That’s what got me into that and I really like it.