Letters to Home: Election Edition
While the election entrenched itself into every bit of our lives here in the US, its ubiquity traveled far past the United States and throughout the globe where the sense of anticipation was palpable everywhere. Mired in the actions of the United States is every other nation, waiting anxiously as we determine the "leader of the free world." The Forum asked some of our own study abroad students to tell us about the trials, the tribulations, the excitement, and the atmosphere in their various countries of study during the days surrounding the election:
Hong Kong - Max Zipperman
Following the presidential election from Hong Kong has been amusing and interesting. The Hong Kong media has been unexpectedly thorough; polling and campaign updates are broadcast in public squares and on the MTR (the HK subway). I fill with excitement when I start to hear Obama or Romney's voice, but that excitement quickly turns to disinterest as their voices are superseded with Cantonese voice-overs. I have thus turned to tracking the election online, reading the NY Times and watching my favorite news sources online, both fake and real. My program at The Chinese University of Hong Kong has a large international student population, and I have found it interesting engaging in political discourse with these students who have an international perspective and tend to swing liberal. Wednesday morning (Tuesday night PST) I will watch live coverage from the US Consulate in Hong Kong!
Strasbourg, France - Christina Brandt
The French people honestly cannot believe we let a man who is so openly Mormon even make it so far in the election. Secularism in France is probably more of a religion than actual religion, any politician who claimed any sort of religious beliefs (especially one perceived to be as extreme as Mormonism) would be dead in the water before even getting started. Generally, the French like President Obama, partly because they could not believe that Americans would elect an African American and partly because politically he most closely resembles their own Francois Holland. What is amazing is how many people are informed and even invested in the election. The majority of people I have come into contact with really care about this election but mostly as a matter of interest and not so much because they are concerned how it will impact them.
Capetown, South Africa - Caitlin Highland
People in South Africa are almost as nervous for the election as Americans are. As one woman said, "It almost isn't fair that only Americans can vote for the election. The President will affect the entire world, even South Africa." Moreover, I have yet to meet a single South African who hopes Mitt Romney wins, and I've spoken with at least twenty South Africans about it. Obama is incredibly popular here. As the election drew closer, more and more South Africans expressed their concern about the outcome. South Africans tend to have strong political views, and the American election is no exception.
Recife, Brazil - Nathan Falk
The US election is a HUGE deal. All the news channels have been covering it at length and in-depth for weeks. Brazilians are aware and care—sometimes more than my American friends—about the election. In Brazil, President Barack Obama is extremely popular. At the US Consulate's election party in Recife, Pernambuco last night, I counted the ballots for our "mock vote." Obama won 95 percent of the vote, and every single Brazilian that I spoke to wanted Obama to win.
Madrid, Spain - Kendyl Klein
I am writing this at 5:30 in the morning Spain time. I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. in order to see the election results in real time. Following the election from abroad was an extremely strange feeling; I felt so out of the loop. I am living in Spain in a grave time, when the unemployment rate has reached 25 percent—50 percent for kids our age. To be honest, the environment I live in has changed my perspective of the United States; we are in much better shape than we may think. With that said, Spaniards prefer Obama, mostly because of his foreign policy views, not to mention the fact that Romney dissed Spain in the first presidential debate. Spaniards don't consider the US to be in crisis and think it has a better chance of improving international relations if Obama is elected. In fact, my theory of law professor at the university here continuously bashed Romney in class, crossing her fingers that Obama would win. Lucky for us, it has been announced that he is the projected winner! I can go back to sleep now.
Seoul, Korea - Emmy Mildenberg
While most South Koreans I have talked to have an opinion on the American presidential race, the majority of them seem more interested in what I have to say about their upcoming presidential race. Their election is a month away, but last night was a crucial turn in the election as independent presidential candidate Ahn Cheol Soo decided to combine forces with main opposition party nominee Moon Jae In in a bid to stop the ruling party’s Park Geun Hye from winning next month’s election. I did have the opportunity to attend an election party thrown by the US Embassy in Seoul, and there was a celebratory whoop when around 1:15 p.m. CNN predicted Obama to win, but there was far more excitement last night when the two Korean candidates were meeting.
Santiago, Chile - Haley Patoski
I think every American college student in Santiago, Chile, was crowded around the same TV last night. I even ran into a few familiar faces. As Carly Lenderts ’14 said, “CMC is when you walk into a bar on the other side of the world and two of your classmates are already there.” More surprisingly, though, were the Chileans who also turned out to see the results. It was a testament to how much the United States truly sets the tone for the rest of the world. Upon returning home, my host parents already knew Obama had won. In America, it is rare to see so many people so aware of elections in other countries. But in Chile, late into the night, a group of Americans found each other in another country, thousands of miles from home, to watch the fate of their country be decided.
London, England - Tara Jotwani I was surprised how closely everybody in London was following the election. There were multiple election viewing events on campus, and they were all packed despite the time difference! It was interesting to see how involved all of the British students felt; many of them had USA painted on their faces in red, white, and blue, and were chanting Obama's name. I am glad I got to experience the election despite being away!
Washington DC, United States - Katie Rodihan (White House Intern, Council of Economic Advisers)
Obama won Washington, DC by 91% yesterday. I have never seen the city as alive as it was last night. The streets were filled with people cheering and hugging strangers. People flocked to the White House to celebrate Obama’s victory. While election night was great, the run-up to the election was a nerve-wracking time in DC. 33% of the districts residents work for the government, which means election results can have a direct impact on the employment situation of a large percentage of residents. This percentage includes my office. Although I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to experience this election as an intern at the White House, it has definitely made the past month a stressful one. My whole office would check Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog every couple hours. It’s been a crazy past few weeks, but I am overjoyed and excited to begin working on policies for President Obama’s second term!