The best political conversation that I have had this year did not come from an American. It came from a Tibetan. He raised some interesting points that confirmed something that many people forget these days – the world watches America.
My friend, Dorje*, grew up in northwestern China with his nomadic family. They travelled with their herds of yak and sheep from summer grasslands to winter grasslands. Now, Dorje runs his own trekking company, taking Chinese and foreign travelers on trips around the Tibetan Plateau.
Dorje and other Tibetans have been following this election very closely for several reasons. First, many more Tibetans have access to the internet on their mobile phones than ever before. There are also more and more news articles being translated into Tibetan. Second, like many people, the Tibetans are concerned about the growing Islamic State and their expansion into other areas. Dorje said that he fears the Islamic State will continue to grow even into Tibet unless someone stops them.
This last point is why most of the Tibetans are supportive of Donald Trump. They have seen that Obama has not shown military strength during his presidency, and they are afraid that if Hillary Clinton is elected there will be more of the same. Donald Trump speaks with strength and purpose, especially in regard to defeating the Islamic State, and the Tibetans appreciate this. These Tibetans are only a few generations removed from clans led by pillaging warlords, so it’s understandable that strength in leadership is attractive to them.
We discussed some of the other issues in this election, mostly along the conservative/liberal divide. These talking points didn’t interest him that much, but the hearings and investigations into Secretary Clinton’s private emails did. Dorje commented that it was amazing to him and his friends that someone as high as the US Secretary of State could be put under investigation and possibly face charges under the law. This along with Donald Trump’s inability to “buy” the presidency with all his money showed the Tibetans what American democracy was truly about. In China, they see a government that has to have anti-corruption programs, and if you have money, any position or opportunity is available to you. So while most Americans lament the politics of 2016, the Tibetans see democracy at work.
As I said, this was the best conversation that I have had about the 2016 elections. And it reminded me that the world is watching America. This convinced me even more of the need for character in leadership. It also made me think about what a strong influence the American church can have if believers would unite under the things which matter most to God.
Defending the unborn.
Combating racial hostilities.
If the church shows genuine strength and a clear message in these matters, will other nations see an example to follow? If Tibetan nomads care about how America presents itself, shouldn’t we?
*name has been changed