November 21, 2004

THE ECHO CHAMBER:

Baffled over Bush win, Europeans engage expatriates (MAUREEN JENKINS, November 21, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

I sure picked an interesting time to move across the Atlantic. Regardless of the outcome, I knew much debate would ensue after this month's U.S. Presidential election. If Democratic challenger John Kerry had pulled it out, celebrations would have erupted all over Europe for a man regarded by many as the last hope for peace, love and understanding in these troubled times. But since President George W. Bush won re-election, the mood among much of the population here is one of indcredulity. Shock. And genuine apprehension about how the U.S. President's subsequent policies will affect everything from global warming to future world conflicts.

One gets the sense that the citizens of Europe comprise one big "blue state" that surely would have sent Kerry to the White House by large margins.

But on this continent, where so many of the national economies depend on tourist spending from abroad, how will this month's election -- now that the majority of the electorate has spoken -- affect their perceptions of American tourists who will travel here in the future?

I must admit that for me, an American who relocated to Florence less than three months ago, Nov. 3 was a tough day. Despite our Democratic leanings, a fellow American expatriate journalist friend and I were genuinely reluctant to leave the house the morning after the election, wondering how we'd be greeted in the streets by puzzled Italians. So we were determined to stalk around Florence behind our ever-present dark shades, chatting as much as possible in broken Italian, and not calling attention to our American selves. Sure enough that week, we were constantly asked how we felt about the Bush victory. (Many expressed surprise at our ability to vote absentee and at least were pleased we made our voices heard from across the ocean.) In this country where citizens staged massive demonstrations before the start of the war in Iraq -- despite Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's support of both Bush and the invasion -- the Republican president's win was seen as a giant leap back for world relations.


What can Europe learn about America from people who are as alienated from it as they are themselves?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 21, 2004 10:48 AM
Comments

And the destruction of the WTC is a major leap forward in world relations?

Posted by: ratbert at November 21, 2004 1:25 PM

Another example why there needs to be residence requirements for voting (absentee or otherwise) in this country. Anyone who considers themself to be "an expatriate" should not have a greater vote than a resident of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or Guam.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 21, 2004 1:48 PM

Mr. Judd;

What makes you think they're trying to learn? I suspect they're looking for affirmation, not information.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at November 21, 2004 3:16 PM

"Europeans are much more into world politics than Americans -- they know every single nuance," says Ricki Stevenson, an American journalist living in France..."

Bad data in, bad data out.

Posted by: MB at November 21, 2004 4:09 PM

They should move to Central Ohio. They could have joined 100,000 red state Americans to cheer on Ohio State while they beat blue state team Michigan yesterday. Helluva game. A good time was had by all. Michigan lost, but because Iowa beat Wisconsin, Michigan will go to the rose bowl.

Ohio States hero of the game was Troy Smith, a red shirt sophmore from Cleveland, after the game, he thanked God for giving him the strength to win the game. No one objected to breaching the wall of separation between football and religion.

Now that is red state vs blue state action we can all get behind.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 21, 2004 6:06 PM

"But on this continent, where so many of the national economies depend on tourist spending from abroad, how will this month's election -- now that the majority of the electorate has spoken -- affect their perceptions of American tourists who will travel here in the future?"

They'll be happy to see them and their money. I had planned for two trips a year to the continent during retirement but haven't been there since 2000 and have no plan to do so to date. Italy happens to be a favorite destination and will eventually be on my itinerary again.

I suspect Italy is much like the US with blue cities and red countrysides. They did elect Silvio. And did all the Italians march in the protests? And how many came in from other countries for the event? And why the hell did NH go blue by 1 percent?

Posted by: genecis at November 22, 2004 12:01 AM

genecis,

Because oj's neighbors know him?:)

AOG,

You have it precisely right.

Posted by: Bart at November 22, 2004 6:48 AM
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