No lo doy por seguro...
American (and Democrat) Expatica blogger Kristen Bernardi is not as certain about November’s presidential elections as her European counterparts.
“Well, Obama is young and hip and unlike Bush, and the other bloke isn’t,” a British co-worker tells me, “So Obama would have a clear victory in England.”
If only it were that simple.
My Spanish friends acknowledge that Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin is “guapa, y era un Miss,” but their perception of her based on the news stories streaming out of the US is that she’s woefully incompetent and that, in selecting her, McCain put the nail in his campaign’s coffin.
If only they were right.
Currently, Barack Obama and John McCain are only six points apart in voter polls – hardly a foreseen runaway victory for anyone. Palin’s folksy appeal may not translate, but she has given McCain’s ticket the boost it needed from the religious right, hordes of women and those ‘Joe Six-Packs’ she mentions so fondly.
So where does this claro-Obama-will-win perspective come from on this side of the pond?
For starters, the American newspapers and television broadcasts that make it over to Spain tend to be in the neutral-to-left-wing range. The right-wing, conservative media like Fox News stays more or less in America’s heartland.
Our European counterparts are also likely to know more about the elections than some (unfortunately) uninformed Americans. Sure, the latest gaffes show up on Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show, but ask the average American to explain the recently approved financial bailout package. Go on, I’ll wait.
A few Spanish friends were astonished recently when I mentioned that rumours of Obama being a closeted Muslim persist and affect voters’ decisions. They were stunned that, sadly, in a country as ‘moderno’ as the US, racism can still play such a role in 2008. (The urban singles on dubbed American television shows don’t make up the entire voter pool – the folks who watch those same shows in Wasilla, Alaska vote too.)
From their position as residents of a country that pulled its troops out of Iraq, they couldn’t understand how Americans can support a candidate who doesn’t want to do the same as soon as possible.
A couple factors are not necessarily accounted for outside the US. Namely, that for many Republicans back home, John McCain is viewed as an experienced ‘Maverick’ and war hero. He knows just the buzzwords that tug on conservative heartstrings. Meanwhile, conservatives argue that Barack Obama is nothing but an inexperienced hope salesman with no substance.
Personally, I’m not losing my hope in Obama’s brand of hope just yet. Young people are getting involved and informed about the voting process like never before, turning up in record numbers at rallies, volunteering to campaign and, most importantly, paying attention to candidates’ policies. Republicans all over the country are voting Democrat for the first time.
With our international reputation in shambles and the economy not faring much better, panicked voters are becoming polarized in their decisions; they’re just not all on the same side of the spectrum as Europeans would like to believe. Now, less than four weeks of headlines, goofs and mudslinging remain. We’ll see in November if the current general consensus that Obama is a sure thing was correct.
Americans, register to vote and get your absentee ballot ASAP! www.votefromabroad.org
The writer, Kristen Bernardi, is a blogger with Expatica Spain and contributes to a fortnightly blog on alternate Fridays.