Wednesday, October 27, 2004
A Long Way from Home on Election Day
We moved over to France a couple of months before the last US election. Thinking back to that time, I can’t remember much of an interest here in the election. We had been residing in Washington D.C. previously and were pretty much living and breathing politics. Since I left DC I haven’t thought too much about US politics, but that has all changed with the upcoming US Presidential election. It seems like the only thing people want to talk about. My experience here has been, the longer you are away from the US, the less you understand its policies, and therefore, the less you support the current leadership. Now, I’ve pretty much only been here during the Bush years, so my experience may be very skewed. But, for example, my husband went to a census survey (how to reach out and grab the most expats for the next census) a couple of months ago and we were shocked by some of the comments people made…. “I don’t want to see the American Flag on the census brochure.” So many Americans are against America. I heard one American last week telling a British friend that it is ridiculous that only Americans can elect the President when the rest of the world has to deal with him.
When my US friends ask me if the French treat me badly, I say “not at all!” In fact, the French (generally) think Bush is a crazy lunatic, but they like Americans and have always treated me well. However, Americans don’t seem to separate the French from their leaders. They talk of how the French didn’t support us against the terrorists. They rename French fries. It’s really too bad.
Anyway, I am feeling anxious about this election. It’s everywhere. It’s the lead story in the French papers, on the radio, when I talk to my friends (did you send in your absentee ballot?), and even my sisters. This became very clear to me today when my US sister told me that Paul Newman, the actor, had called her (and everyone in her neighborhood) about the upcoming election.
On a completely different subject (as my friend always told me, segues are for kids) my daughter just handed me a paper with her name correctly written on it. For months now she’s been writing her name with some of the correct letters all in the wrong order. I’ve been asking her if I could help her to write her name, but she’s declined my offer. She handed me a paper with a drawing (she draws for hours on end) and her name. It was so nice I thought her father had written it. But no! It is a beautiful thing.
-- said Auntie M in Paris