Why the American Election matters to Samoa and rest of the free world

The United States Election is a global event in every meaning of the term.  Regardless of wherever in the world you might be, it is undeniable that the movement by more than a hundred million Americans to cast their votes will be closely followed given the influence America has on the world stage and ultimately in our lives – even in a place as remote as Samoa.

From a global lens looking in from the outside, the ultimate question is who will win the Presidential race for the privilege to lead the United States in the next four years. Will the conservative Republicans continue to rule through incumbent President Donald Trump? Or would the liberal Democrats, through Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, open a new chapter and begin a new era in the history of this great nation?

Only time will tell.

There is more to the U.S. Election though than the main Presidential race. Through their democratic vote, Americans are also choosing new members of their Congress as well as the control of the U.S. Senate. These are the minor battles within the ultimate war called the American Election machinery.

A point of interest closer to home is whether Aumua Amata will continue as American Samoa’s Congresswoman. Speaking of Pago, all eyes will be on the race for the Governorship of the American territory, where five groups of gubernatorial candidates are vying for the position. Governor Lolo Moliga is not running again.

Not too far away is the state of Hawaii where some candidates with connections to Samoa through blood and otherwise are also running for office. This is what makes the U.S. elections so global and interesting to watch – from Samoa’s perspective at least.

But this election in the eyes of the world is ultimately about the President and the enormous dislike, at least publically, of Trump. If all the opinions and vote polls are to be believed, they might as well skip everything else and hold the inauguration for Mr. Biden now. All the polls pointed to a Biden victory.

It has been fascinating to observe just how fewer people believe Trump can secure a second term as President, despite the lessons from 2016 where Trump was also the underdog to the more seasoned politician and diplomat in Hillary Clinton. Some newspapers – including some of the biggest in the world – had actually called the victory for Clinton only to be proven all so wrong.

Four years later, not many things have changed. Trump went into the election as the underdog, the challenger had already won in the eyes of many people and the global problems, which were many in 2016, have only multiplied.

As we await the outcome, we can say for certain this election is perhaps the most important decision Americans would have made this far, given the precarious state of American and global affairs to date.  At a time of such unimaginable uncertainty and tragedy, the simple question Americans will have to answer is whether they believe Trump can see their nation through these difficult times, and ultimately become the good global citizen America has been known to be.

The coronavirus pandemic and Trump’s handling of the crisis has not helped his cause and certainly thrown the spanner in the works. During the past four years, problems with race and class in America have been clearly exposed for the world to see. Riots, killings and uncivilized behaviour have become the new norm where the President simply has been unable to come across as the peacemaker his country so sorely needed. It is undeniable that the role of the media where Trump has been vilified by his foes and praised by his friends has been enormous in this campaign. It’s something that could contain some lessons for Samoa and the media landscape here, given some of the ongoing conversations and the approaching 2021 General Elections.

But there are always two sides to a story and the sentiments echoed by some American voters living in Samoa offer an interesting alternative view to that expressed in mainstream.

“I have aligned myself with the party that values the lives of babies. The party that celebrates religion. The party that continually tries to make it easier for small businesses to succeed. The party that upholds my second amendment right to own firearms,” said Joe Merrick.  “The party that believes speech is free regardless of how ignorant some people are in their use of it. The party that stands behind our law enforcement; I voted for Donald Trump.”

Vee Palepoi, a U.S. Navy Veteran living in Lotopa, is equally supportive of Trump, saying: “I love how President Trump brought back Christ into the White House, Christmas was celebrated openly without fearing of offending others. I love how he brought jobs back to the U.S. I love what he did to the economy. I love how he stands up for America to China, Mexico, Russia and other countries. I love how everyone knows he stands by Israel and has helped facilitate peace agreements for Israel.”

Not everyone will agree but that’s the beauty of democracy. It is a free world where people are not only allowed to express themselves; they can also do the talking through their votes. What’s complicated about the American election is that even if Biden wins the popular vote, it is the Electoral College votes that would determine who would occupy the most coveted office in the White House, with the magic number being 270.   

Who will it be? Well at press time last night, it was a nail biter with Biden ahead by 227-213. A very interesting contest.

Whoever wins, Samoa and the Pacific nations will be watching with bated breath. With China’s presence in the region continuing to be a topic of contention, Trump’s administration has definitely upped the ante in terms of America’s engagement and response.

Stay tuned!  





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