Flying the Republican flag in Amsterdam
Steve Weiss got more than he bargained for when he called the Republicans Abroad headquarters in Washington to ask who was in charge of campaigning for George Bush among US expats in the Netherlands. Much to his surprise, he was offered the job.
Steve Weiss: the President's man dismisses John Kerry
Nevertheless, he says after a few weeks he had fallen in love with the Dutch capital and the people he has met have been quite friendly.
Finding the right accommodation — big enough to accommodate family members visiting from the US — was the first big challenge. "Expats are quite coddled in Hong Kong with all services well organised and easily accessible for foreign workers. Here, it is just another western city," he says.
It took some looking to find a place in Amsterdam that tallied with his accommodation wish list — three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an elevator.
But unlike many other expats, adjusting to Dutch office life wasn't too difficult because he has worked for ABN for 12 years. He worked for the US State Department prior to that.
As is the case for many of his compatriots here, Weiss — a member of the Republican Party — was not too busy settling into expat life to ignore the impending presidential election in the US.
"I wasn't involved with Republicans Abroad (RA) when in Hong Kong, but this is a very important election, so I called the RA's headquarters and asked who to contact here in the Netherlands. They said: how about you?"
He got the job and Republicans Abroad had a rallying point in the Netherlands.
For most of this year, Democrats Abroad have been very active in the Netherlands, both by organising voter registration drives among US expats and preaching the John Kerry message.
By contrast, there has been a deafening silence from the Republican camp. Frequent media calls to the RA's European chairman in Paris have also remained unanswered.
All this is about to change in the Netherlands, says Weiss.
He conceded that it was a bit late for Republicans Abroad to set up a voter registration operation to rival that of the Democrats, but he hopes to continue pushing the Republican message among US expats after the 2 November election.
Weiss says there are a lot of US citizens in the Netherlands who support President George Bush, but they have felt isolated up to now because the Democrats are better organised.
He says many US expats — from all walks of life — have come forward since he stuck his head above the parapet to fly the Republican flag.
So why vote for George Bush rather than John Kerry?
"I guess it comes down to whether you think the world changed after September 11. If you think terrorism is the most serious threat to the US, you have no choice but to vote for George Bush," Weiss says.
It is clear, he says, where Bush stands. He has been much more aggressive in confronting the threat and has taken the battle to the enemy.
"Now look at John Kerry. He voted in 1998 for regime change in Iraq and voted in favour of the war last year. He then voted against funding the troops," Weiss says.
"Kerry has criticised Bush for going to war, given that no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have been found. Yet he says he would vote for the war now even."
Weiss' voice gets noticeably harder and adds: "There is no consistency here. What message is this sending to the terrorists?"
Bush is also the best manager of the US economy, he asserts.
"The economy took three massive hits — the IT bubble burst, followed by September 11 and the Enron scandal. What did Bush do? He responded with tax cuts. Everyone admits you have to have deficit spending at a time like this."
Weiss says the choice on 2 November will be a simple one: Bush the decisive or Kerry the flip-flop king.
Steve Weiss spoke to Expatica prior to the first televised debate between President Bush and John Kerry.
Click here to contact Steve Weiss and Republicans Abroad.
1 October 2004
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Republicans Abroad, US expats, American election