Friday, November 07, 2008

The 2008 Election - From Germany

It's been a few days since Election Day and I've been holding off writing about politics, but after the outcome, I felt the need to comment. This is the first year that I've been a fervent supporter of any candidate. It was the first time I contributed money a campaign, despite the fact that I have very little money to begin with (still unemployed) and I joined the Democrats Abroad and helped them register Americans living here to vote. It was fantastic meeting the different types of people living in Germany and seeing how this election inspired so many people. One man I met had been living abroad for 20 years or more and hadn't voted since he left the U.S., but he thought the presidential election was too important that he couldn't not vote. There were several people my age that just had no idea how to get an absentee ballot. Then there were Germans who were just amazed at the fact that there were Americans here trying to get the vote out, regardless of party association. (We registered people as a non-partisan act, but if asked, we would respond that we were part of the Dems Abroad.)

During the last three weeks before Election Day, I could be found obsessively checking polls, the NY Times, Washington Post, Fox News, and YouTube. This NY Times article described me perfectly. Leading up the election, I was also interviewed by the Westdeutsche Zeitung (a local paper), though the article misquoted me (I do not and never did think that American papers were more pro-McCain than German papers; rather, McCain got more coverage in American papers than in their German counterparts.) To say the least, German media kept a close eye on the election, reporting on the debates, "Joe the Plumber" hitting the campaign trail, etc. German friends would ask me about the election, what were my thoughts, if I thought Obama had a good chance of winning.

Election Day finally rolled around (and the weekend before it could not have gone any slower). I baked "Obama cookies" from scratch, from the cookies themselves to the frosting. Granted, my first batch was rock hard and I threw them out and made a second batch (shown here), but I was definitely excited about them. A friend from my program last year, Rob, who lives in Pforzheim came up just for the election because he wanted to watch it with some fellow Americans. We went to a small party at this guy Frankie's apartment, whom I had met through the Democrats Abroad. The group there was pretty diverse considering the electorate at home: a Jew, a black man, two white Catholic guys, a Filipino Catholic, a German who had lived in D.C. for awhile, and me. On top of that, we had a three person crew from WDR (West Deutscher Rundfunk, one of Europe's biggest media companies) filming us for a story. We hadn't felt like going to Cologne for the big party there, but we had a great time anyway.

To make a long story short since everyone knows what the outcome was, we were celebrating victory at 6 a.m. Though our party was not big, emotions were running high and our WDR crew definitely woke up a little more at that point. (They were the only ones showing any signs of getting tired in the early hours of the morning) Going home on the train was slightly funny because we moved against the flow of traffic and thought it was almost like a walk of shame, except that the walk of shame was a walk of victory. (Or "wictory" as some Germans might say?) If you want to see the video that WDR made of us, you can see it here (it also covers the bigger Dems Abroad party in Cologne).

On Wednesday, I got calls from some Germans congratulating me on the new president. Everywhere you went, you could hear Germans talking about Obama and the U.S. I felt that I could say, "Hey, I'm American!" and be proud of the fact, rather than sort of mumbling it and being embarrassed. Because of the time difference, the newspapers didn't come out with the story until Thursday, but every single paper had a picture of Obama and/or his family, with headlines like "The dream is finally true" and "The new hope for America." It was impossible to doubt: The U.S. did well in the eyes of German media. We proved that we can change, that we are flexible, that we are a nation of hopes and dreams and the impossible is possible.

I'm sure that people living in the U.S. have seen articles about the world rejoicing, but I can say that it is really true and not exaggerated. We just turned a page of history and I, along with the Germans I know, are looking forward to the future.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I enjoyed the Obama cookies that you bought home for me; they were delicious. Are you going to make some to celebrate his inauguration?