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That fateful night in 2016 when world politics, up until then seemingly predictable and stable, were upended, a new course was set for american politics and discourse. The next four years were marked with ambivalence; a rise in violence was paralleled by a rise in the stock market. Pundits on the left argued that Trump was «riding the proverbial wave» made by the previous administration, while pundits on the right maintained that it was a result of the Trump-ingenuity.

The high times lasted until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. And it hit hard. Small businesses, toted by both sides of the political spectrum as «america’s backbone», shut down one by one as the government quarreled over relief packages. Personal bankruptcy was a problem as well, and the relief of the people suffered the same fate as the businesses, with the exception of personal cheques issued twice for respectively $1200 and $2000 each.

The pandemic came in the midst of the violence previously mentioned. Marches and attacks by far-right white supremacist groups such as the ones in Charlottesville, Virginia had become somewhat of a mainstay. On the other side of the spectrum, protests for Black Lives Matter erupted after the gruesome murder of African-American man George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Far away form all the action, in the cold and rainy metropolis of Bergen, Norway, are international students Willard «Will» Nicholaas Noyes and Nathan Waldner Cole. We met them at the Fantoft student city, and discussed their thoughts and ideas for the election and the state of american democracy in general.

– Biden spoke a lot about unity (in his speech), I think it is very ambitious to talk about that at this point, says Will. A native Michigander, he identifies as a moderate who supported Biden.

– I’m definitely interested to see how Biden will live up to what he said in his speech.

It is indeed no fortuitous statement. Biden spoke heavily in his inaugural address about uniting the country and healing the divides. His speech was characterized by optimism and hopes for a better future. It stood in stark contrast to Trump’s speech in 2016, which portrayed a fractured nation robbed by outsourcing and what he described as «american carnage».

– I’ve become a little numb over the last four years, […] thinking something monumental was going to change, I kept getting excited, and time and time again nothing came of it, says Nathan from the state of Kansas. He places himself more to the left of Will, supporting Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in his campaign, but voting for Biden after he won the primary election. He is referring to all the efforts to remove or limit Trump over the last few years. In the end, none of it came to fruition, and Trump was removed from office by number of ballots cast.

In the end, both are carefully optimistic, while still realizing that the problems of their homeland are far from over. When asked if there is a sigh of relief now that the Trump presidency is over, Will answers:

– In the sense that Trump was definetly a loose cannon, and Biden is a more typical politician. So I don’t think there are going to be more crazy headlines. But the underlying issues in the US are still there, and there’s a lot of work to be done.

We reached out to both Democrats Abroad Norway and Republicans Abroad Norway for their comments regarding the election. Neither one replied.

A previous version of this article misstated that Charlottesville is in North Carolina, and not in Virginia. This error has been rectified.

 

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