Yes, I voted. I voted weeks ago, actually. As an American abroad I was able to visit the embassy website and find the instructions for my specific state. We vote Massachusetts because that was our last state of residence. To my surprise, the overseas voting process was remarkably simple. We were even able to choose whether to vote by regular mail (anonymous—as ballots in the States normally are), or by e-mail (anonymity sacrificed). We voted by regular mail but I suppose I’ll just forego my anonymity and tell you I voted for Obama.
It’s funny how I hesitate to write that. (No hateful tirades in the comments, please!) In the US, especially in the election season where it seems that anyone on either side is ready to provoke a verbal fight, many people would consider the question Who are you voting for? a little taboo. Don’t ask; don’t tell. But get out and vote, because we all agree it’s a privilege.
Still, I want people at home to know how much Europe cares about America’s presidential elections. I got on a train Saturday night, exchanged a couple words of small talk with the (Dutch) man on my right, and as soon as he heard my English asked: “So you’re American? Obama or Romney?”
Ah, the European directness. I have been asked that question point-blank probably a dozen times by Europeans in the last couple months (several times by strangers or new acquaintances), and been amazed by how much they know and want to know. They want to talk about our health care system. They want to know how we think immigration should work. Yes, American news filters into the news coverage here; but they all agree that the person who wins today’s election will shape things that affect them as well. It is humbling to me, because I am well aware how relatively little I know about European politics.
And so they, and I, will wait to see what happens tonight.
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