I have been hiding from my blog recently to avoid my parents knowing my whereabouts last week - will update on what I have been up to shortly.
Now I wanted to take a few moments while sitting at the airport on the neverending journey from Connecticut to JFK to Frankfurt (12 hour layover to meet up with my boss for my annual review) to Zurich to reflect on this year's campaign for the presidency from abroad. This is my first presidential election as seen from overseas and for those curious how the experience is from this angle, I am posting a few (incoherent from fatigue) thoughts.
I met M. almost 4 years ago, just after the Bush re-election. We were in a training session surrounded by Europeans, Americans and a few people here and there from the other continents, and it soon became apparent how interested everyone from abroad was in the American election. Although I had just met M., I was bluntly asked multiple times who I had voted for, what party I belonged to and about my perspectives on the politics of the last four years and outlook for the next four. The others from our class joined in the interrogation. For sure it was very startling to be asked so directly about my personal views on politics and the candidates. Over time, I have found that whereas Americans tend to treat these things as private matters, Europeans like an open discussion and debate on political topics. It still doesn't make me any more comfortable discussing them publicly but the questions were not something special for me or by extension for being the token American in the midst.
Along those lines, during the long buildup to this year's election I have also been surprised how much coverage there is of the campaign process, how opinionated Joe the European is, and how many people have tried subtly or not so subtly to influence my vote. I think many Europeans would prefer to be allowed to vote in this election and feel very strongly that the outcome has some direct impact on them. More than one have asked if they could have my absentee ballot.
I don't think this is influencing the outcome of the election too much. America is more concerned about domestic issues than world opinion. But make no mistake, the world is watching and waiting. And the opinion here? Well let's just say I have yet to hear of one vote for McCain - not even a European make-believe vote.
A few recent articles on the topic:
Germans Hoping to Get Past Bush-Fatigue
(The comments underneath are a riot - some of America's finest voicing their opinion)
An Enigmatic Country Elects a New President
Rest of World to US: We Have a Stake Too
Posted from Frankfurt