Foreign students’ opinions of Obama stay high

Nationally, President Barack Obama faces a barrage of diminishing support. But worldwide, his approval ratings demonstrate just the opposite.

With midterm elections around the corner and a congressional battle for partisan control occurring, international students at Marquette show their support for the current president and an American government different from their own.

Alex Huau Armani, a French foreign exchange student and resident of Global Village, currently works with the Democratic Party and supports the President. Armani, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the biggest issue with American government is the idea it is not unified.

“The goal of politics and elections is to gather people, not divide them,” Armani said. “These things can’t be so black and white.”

Armani believes the Congress changing every two years is a negative thing for politics, as it never allows anything to settle. He said meaningful change is hard to achieve when incumbents and new candidates are always campaigning.

Javier Landa, a Mexican graduate student in engineering management, agrees President Obama is doing a good job with the American government. He didn’t see a problem with the government itself, but with the politicians representing it.

“There’s a lot of attacking … all you have to do is look at the commercials,” Landa said. “In Mexico, there are laws against speaking about opposing candidates in advertisements.”

Matthew Bin Han Ong, a Malaysian junior in the College of Communication, said Americans have never experienced a government such as the one in his home country. He said the Malaysian government constitutes racism, provides no separation of religion and government and strongly prohibits free speech.

“Americans have it good over here,” he said.

Ong said although American government has its flaws, he cannot complain because it is decades ahead of the Malaysian government in terms of human capital, efficiency and civil rights and liberties.

Just as these Marquette students see the American government in a bright light, international opinions went from negative to positive when President Obama was elected.

In 2007, the BBC conducted a study with GlobeScan, an international research consultancy, on the influence the United States had on the rest of the world. Results showed 20 out of 26 countries surveyed held the most common view that the U.S. had a negative influence.

A year later, The Economist, a weekly publication focusing on international affairs and business news, created a feature called the “Global Electoral College” for the 2008 presidential election. It showcased the electoral map on a global scale and after voting ended, all but three countries were blue in support for Barack Obama.

President Obama’s support has remained strong in many countries worldwide.

According to a June release from the Pew Research Center, an organization that researches public attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy, its Global Attitudes Project showed many international views of the U.S. as favorable.

The report said France and Germany held favorable views. Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Poland and Brazil also gave high ratings of the United States.

However, levels of approval and confidence in the U.S. amongst Muslim publics (people) declined since 2009, according to the report.

The study said issues such as formulation of foreign policy, war and approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cause the most international negativity toward the U.S. and President Obama.