They Like Us (Kinda, Potentially) Again! 2008 US Elections, Abroad

In preparing to travel abroad this summer (to Italy this summer with my family- I’ve never been to Europe before so this is very exciting for me), and study abroad next year (in Turkey from late January 2009 to early June, I think), it has come to my attention that the 2008 US elections (oh, have you heard of them?) are “all the rage” abroad. Apparently, non-Americans (particularly Europeans) are kind of excited about no longer having to deal with George W. Bush in the White House.

“There is a desperate sense of need that there must be something better than Bush out there,” said Dean Godson, head of a conservative research group in London called Policy Exchange. Or, as Thomas Valasek, a spokesman for the Center for European Reform in London, put it: “The world at large has a massive stake in the outcome of the elections. Never before has the U.S. had such a terrible reputation, a terrible image.”

Source: New York Times

If you thought people obsessed over the election here, wait until you talk to people in Europe:

“Of course it’s our election,” said John Gordon, a founder of Intelligence Squared, organizer of a series of public debates attended by London’s well-heeled set.

Gordon has left dinner parties to watch coverage of the U.S. primaries. “American policy is inextricably linked to our own,” he said. “We are the 53rd state. We know every intimate detail of Michelle’s hair.”

Source: International Herald Tribune

Or Asia:

“People know the decisions of the American president will affect Indonesia, and that is why many are watching carefully the elections in the United States,” said Bonar Tidor, 45, a human rights activist in Indonesia.

Source: New York Times

Or Mexico:

“There is a whole nation of Mexicans living in the United States,” said Fausto Zapata, a former diplomat in Mexico City. “And the connections with relatives, friends and partners in Mexico are immense, almost gigantic. Almost any movement in the American economy affects Mexico, negatively or positively.”

Source: New York Times

And who would they vote for? Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, almost overwhelmingly.

“[Barack Obama is] what the rest of the world dreams America can be,” says JacquesMistral, a transatlantic specialist and director of economic studies at the French Institute for International Relations in Paris. “He looks like a Kennedy type, and that he’s black is very new. In Europe, the idea that a woman can win is accepted. But for a black person to win would represent a radical change – for the US, and the world.”

Source: Christian Science Monitor

“I would vote for Hillary Clinton, because she is quite well versed with Indian society which she knows very well because her husband was also the president of the United States,” said a man interviewed on the street of Bangalore, India. “It will be a great advantage for the Indian stock market… I hope it will be a great boost for the Indian Stock Market as well.”

Source: Current.com

I must say that, if I wasn’t already excited enough for this whole “election” thing, the reactions of people abroad make me even more so. I really love the United States. A lot. I think about it all the time. But it has been really painful to watch what the Bush Administration has done to our reputation abroad. It’s sad to me that non-Americans have been so overwhelmed by the bad things about America that they haven’t gotten to see the good things. Being a part of this election- my first-ever election- gives me an incredible sense of pride and gratitude that I live in the US and am able to help elect the most powerful person in the world.

By the way, if you are at all interested in this subject, I highly suggest that you read my source articles. They are all really interesting and include way more fascinating quotes than I could ever fit into one blog post:

International Herald Tribune- US Election is All the Rage in London

Christian Science Monitor- Abroad, fresh image of U.S.

New York Times- U.S. Race Captures World’s Eye, and Holds It

Current.com- US Election Fever Abroad– A bunch of interviews with non-Americans about the elections.

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