Twenty-one year old Keene State College senior Megan Bradley and twenty-five year old Manchester, N.H. resident Kevin Eche couldn’t be any more opposite from each other on the surface.
When Megan Bradley was 12, her and her two siblings and parents moved from Devon, England to Westchester, New York, where her father received a job offering. Her family’s plan was to get their visas and return to England after two years. Instead, in 2012 they obtained their green cards.
Despite the fact that the Bradley’s plan is to move back to England next year, Megan plans to get a dual citizenship and stay in the states.
Kevin Eche came to America in September, 2015 to get his Master’s Degree in Business Administration with the Concentration in Operation and Supply Chain Management at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).
He left his family back in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, which he describes as a poor economic country facing recession. His visa expires in September, 2017, but he wants to stay in America and hopes to receive his dual citizenship within the next six months.
Megan Bradley and Kevin Eche have lived two completely different lifestyles in two completely different continents. The two however, have something in common. They both fear what the future has in store for this country even though their voices were not technically heard in the past 2016 presidential election.
Coming to America
“When I moved to this country, the first night I vividly remember watching the news and thinking ‘what is this country.’ I hated living here, and for the first year I wanted to move back every day,” explained Bradley, a KSC Resident Assistant.
Bradley wasn’t used to the overbearing, not-so-humble attitudes Americans possess. It took her some time, but eventually she adjusted to the American culture.
The 2008 Barack Obama – John McCain presidential election was Bradley’s first election in this country. She said she didn’t really pay attention nor was she interested in politics during that time, however she described Obama as a good president. “I was happy with that fact that he was African American and that the country was progressing in the right direction,” said Bradley.
The 2016 election had a different impact on her, one that made her want to be more active in campaigning. For Bradley, the two outcomes of the country she resides in, could be completely different and could drastically change from either side of the candidates.
She said working toward citizenship this year has made her more aware of politics and future policies as they affect her future in the United States.
When Eche left his country of Nigeria, he said he knew it was going to be a different ball game altogether. “When I arrived in America I had my mind prepared for the worst case scenario, which I truly didn’t experience, but I did feel the difference in culture, beliefs, way of life, environment and so on,” Eche commented.
Eche described the United States as one of the world’s most respected countries in the world. He plans to stay in this country, where the pay rates are higher, the economy is better and the way of life is more civilized, he explained.
He currently works at Velcro USA Inc. manufacturing in Manchester, New Hampshire. He said he hopes to find employment with a company that will opt for him to be authorized to work and thus stay in America with a dual citizenship.
“Because of how stringent the American visa process is and the cost of the U.S. dollar in comparison to the Naira, my fellow Nigerians back home accord so much respect for us making it through those hurdles and succeeding,” said Eche.
To vote or not to vote
“Can I vote?” Eche pulls out a card with his picture on it. The card reads “Federal Republic of Nigeria Independent National Electoral Commission Voter’s Card.” Eche responds, “I can vote in Nigeria, but I chose not to. I can’t vote in America, but even if I could I wouldn’t.”
In 2012 Eche worked in The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which includes the Senate and House of Representatives. The purpose of the national assembly, similar to the Congressional model here in the United States, is to guarantee equal representation within Nigeria’s 36 states.
While working there during the election, Eche said the decisions and policies that affect the states are made within the representatives in a closed door meeting and are influenced and driven by money.
“I never voted in Nigeria because our votes don’t count. The elections are rigged and they try to hide that from its citizens.” Eche took this ideology with him to America, where he believes citizen’s votes don’t actually count.
On the other hand, Eche said he appreciates the structure of the U.S. elections. Unlike Nigeria, the United States have campaign rallies and televised debates, which allow citizens to form their own opinions about candidates.
“In Nigeria they use ruthless, jobless youths to campaign for politicians, having them run around doing their dirty work for small amounts of money. This causes a lot of traffic on the roads consistently making campaigns very rowdy,” Eche explained.
Bradley’s frustration is inevitable. She asked her peers if they voted, only to feel puzzled by some of their responses. “It makes me feel frustrated when I want to go out and vote but I can’t, then I see people who can vote but don’t,” she said. Although she cannot force people to vote she said she understands why they may choose not to.
The outcome of these individuals not voting, she believes was giving their vote away to her unfavorable candidate, Donald Trump. Bradley compared this belief to something more close to home. In June 2016 the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union (EU), otherwise known as Brexit.
Bradley said the general population was for the EU, as it allowed anyone in Europe to work there without a visa. “Everyone was for it, but people’s mindset was that they didn’t need to vote, thinking the majority vote would be to stay. The results were completely opposite,” Bradley explained. She fears that something similar could happen here in the U.S.
Donald John Trump v. Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
“My family back in England couldn’t believe Trump was a candidate,” Megan Bradley said as she chuckled. “I went to Trump’s campaign when he came to Keene as a joke and I couldn’t believe it, I realized how real this is.”
Bradley continued to involve herself with the politics of this country, further realizing how time has changed. She said she believes Trump is taking the country a step back instead of moving forward.
While watching presidential debates and attending rallies, Bradley commented, Trump seems to always talk about what he is going to do but never how he is going to do it.
“When Trump starts in office, this country could go so wrong,” Bradley said. “Having different opinions is fine, but watching the election and seeing candidates bashing each other and avoiding discussing topics of what citizens want to hear is something I disagree with, it’s unprofessional.”
In Bradley’s opinion, Hillary Clinton on the other hand had more experience. She particularly agreed with Clinton’s beliefs in equality.
Eche described the 2016 Republican candidate, Donald Trump as “a mess” and the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, as “corrupt.” He said he felt torn between the two, but if he was to vote, Clinton would have been his choice.
Despite his belief that the Clinton’s net worth has only increased since Bill left office, which has influenced Hillary’s ability to run for president. Eche said Hillary truly had the interest of the people at heart.
Eche continued that Clinton could have made America more free by reducing poverty, increasing minimum wage, decreasing student loans and interest rates and creating equal pay for women. Consequently however, Eche said the country could have become less secure if she were elected president.
Eche labeled Trump as a businessman, a title he is going to keep when he becomes president. Furthermore, he said Trump’s businessman mindset will only benefit those in America who are fellow businessmen.
In addition, his previous business relations with Russia could potentially have negative effects to the U.S., a ‘friendship” Eche believes will not happen between the United States and Russia anytime soon. Instead, he thinks this will cause problems for the country in the future.
Fearing the unknown
“Donald Trump has bad-mouthed Nigerians saying he was going to evacuate them because they take Americans jobs. Am I supposed to be for someone who is against me?” the economics major Kevin Eche asked.
For Eche, his primary fear with the future of the country is immigration policies. He specifically fears Trump will succeed in his plan to reduce immigration and refugees. As an immigrant who knows several peers that are immigrants, this is unsettling.
Eche regards immigration policies as already being very strict. “Even with a proper visa as soon as you get to the airport you are interrogated. They question you and your documents right when you get to America, but at the same time the strictness is good because they make sure people who pose threats won’t come here, whereas in Nigeria it’s not as strict,” Eche said.
Eche predicts the future of America looking like a dictatorship when Trump is in office. He concluded that Trump will run the country by using force and by bringing in policies that go above Congress to make decisions that will mostly negatively affects the country.
“My family called all the time to talk to me about the election. They were scared of Donald Trump, in particular his speech of sending Nigerians back if he wins,” Eche said. “Some of me and my friends [in America] have received text messages from home asking us how the election is going with hope that would Hillary win so we could have a rest of mind.”
Bradley confessed she has a lot of concerns about the future of America after the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton was never one of those concerns.
Instead, Bradley feared how the Trump administration would handle affairs within the country. She described Trump as “very unprofessional,” commenting on his lack of compassion. “I cannot imagine Trump addressing a possible tragedy that could occur in the country because he’s not empathetic,” Bradley said. “He is not fit to be the face of this country.”
Coming to America from England, where guns are not allowed, Bradley fears the possibility of favorable gun control policies under the Trump administration.
Bradley believes when Trump is in office it will be easier to obtain guns and more shootings will keep occurring in the United States in comparison to England where the low rates of people carrying guns can be accounted for the reduced number of shooting in that country.
She said, “I wish Obama could stay in office and I think Hillary would have followed in his footsteps.”
Alexandra Enayat can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org