British Journalists Share Thoughts On U.S. Election

British journalists Alan and Barbara Mackenzie visited Jamestown Community College on Tuesday to share how the British press and public view the 2016 U.S. election. The event was hosted by the JCC Honors Program, the Global Learning Office and Phi Theta Kappa Chapter. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

Americans aren’t the only ones watching the U.S. election with bated breath.

On Tuesday, British journalists Alan and Barbara Mackenzie shared the view the United Kingdom has developed on the unusual election during their visit to Jamestown Community College. The pair visited for an open discussion regarding the election, and addressed a room of students, staff and college officials. Discussing Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the anger of the disenfranchised across the globe, they gave an inside look into the British view on American and British politics.

Barbara Mackenzie said the British are invested in who wins the presidency. To the British, she added, Trump comes across as derogatory and not seen as presidential.

Alan Mackenzie said the British find good manners to be crucial in a leader, which Trump doesn’t appear to have. However, Clinton’s “scandals” are not seen as a big issue to the British.

“People in Britain don’t care about that,” he said. “What she has done is regarded as pardonable.”

Alan Mackenzie said Clinton is seen as a presidential candidate who will continue the work of President Barack Obama and life will continue to be business as usual.

“Every time Donald Trump opened his mouth, he became less and less and less presidential,” he said. “People were turned off by that, and they turned to Hillary. She’s not actually a particularly appealing character in terms of warmth … and she’s certainly not a politician that has the charisma of her husband, but she’s seen as a legitimate and steady hand in terms of state.”

Barbara Mackenzie said the danger of this election is how far divided the country has become.

“The unfortunate thing about this election is the country is so polarized now,” she said. “It is going to be very difficult now for which ever candidate gets in to unite the parties and therefore, the country because we’ve seen the vitriol with which people attack Hillary, and the same the other way around attacking Donald Trump.”

“It makes you wonder whether there is every going to be a coming together again.”

In the best interest of the country, somehow the United States will have to find a way to work together once again after the election is over, Barbara Mackenzie added.

Alan Mackenzie pointed out there is passion in politics in the U.K., but there isn’t the sense of hatred that can occur in American politics. For example, many people felt strongly about the Brexit vote, but now that it’s over, the people are not fighting over it anymore.

He added it seemed that the same angry, disenfranchised, blue-collared voters who approved the Brexit vote are the same in the American arena that are standing behind Trump. He added he could see why American men might be frightened of a strong woman like Hillary Clinton, but he didn’t understand why American women don’t like her.

Barbara Mackenzie said Trump has largely dominated social media because “it is easier to lie.” Often, social media users will accept whatever appears in their social media feeds without question and do not check their facts. Many social media users are young, she added. They either do not have time or do not bother to double check their information.

“That is really very scary,” she said.

Alan Mackenzie said the question the British press is asking currently is: “Where is America heading now?”

The event was hosted by the by the JCC Honors Program, the Global Learning Office and Phi Theta Kappa Chapter at JCC.