Notes on Being an American Abroad During Election Season (Plus Why #ImWithHer)

Fun fact: I grew up in one of the most conservative counties in the country; my parents are both Republican; I was brought up in a secular household and attended a (very, very) liberal congregation (Unitarian Universalism, a shout out to you).

When I was fourteen and a freshman in high school, President George W. Bush was running for his second term, and we had to take a political party test at school to see where we fell on the political spectrum. A proclaimed Bush supporter at the time, I was horrified to learn upon receiving my results that I had fallen somewhere between “Liberal” and “Democrat.”

When I turned 18, I registered as Democrat. I’ve also voted Democrat in every single presidential election since 2008. I do, however, carry some Libertarian beliefs, mostly in regards to less government control on the economy (but in favor of more government protections on social issues.) I am additionally a “single-issue voter” on a few key issues: I believe so strongly in marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose.

Living in France, I see now more than ever how incredibly awful a two-party system can be. I hate that there aren’t really many viable third-party options; I feel especially like this election has particularly polarized our nation in a way that I’ve never really seen before. One of the joys of expat life is escaping the shit show that is American politics– to be able to watch the hot mess that is the Presidential Election from afar, and quietly send in my absentee ballot without giving much thought.  However, since Donald Trump has become the Republican’s candidate of choice, I’ve found it more difficult than usual to stay away.

Because now suddenly, as an American overseas, I’ve become the sole representation and the sole voice for the entire American nation amongst the people who know me here. I can hardly go anywhere anymore without French or non-American people asking, ‘So, WTF is up with Trump?’ or, ‘What is wrong with your country?’, or ‘Why and how has Donald Trump gained so much popularity?’ I honestly and truly no longer know what to say.

I currently live in France, a country with a 7% Muslim population. Muslims are my students, my colleagues, my bosses, my friends… how do I explain or defend the United States, whose potential new president has publicly stated his intentions to racially profile and ban all ‘Muslims’ from the country?

I live in a country where abortion is (for the most part) a non-controversial issue. My students’ mouths dropped wide when they saw a clip of Trump stating that there should be some form of punishment for women who have had abortions (because Republicans = small government, right?)

As a woman, and especially as a sexual assault survivor, I have to sit and watch  people– both men and women– defend and /or dismiss Trump for his “locker room banter” (and YES, I realize that Bill Clinton had a ton of inexcusable baggage– but Bill Clinton is not running for president.) 

I assure you, America has become the laughing stock of the world. The United States has lost (and will continue to lose) a lot of credibility and power in the world if Donald Trump becomes our commander in chief. There is nothing funny about Donald Trump. There is nothing serious, logical, or moral about a Trump presidency, especially considering America’s position and power in the world. He will not keep America or Americans safe. He is a xenophobic, racist, sexist, businessman with a big mouth, a bigger ego, and absolutely no plan. He will not ‘Make America Great Again.’ Hillary Clinton is a candidate who has been in politics for over 30 years. She is experienced, knowledgeable, and has been fighting for the betterment of Americans since the beginning of her career. She was cleared of her charges in Benghazi, and she is one of the most experienced candidates we’ve ever had, ever, yet it is still a contest between her and a white man with next to zero political expertise.

I will admit, both candidates have their flaws. But one is much more competent and experienced than the other– I’m proud to say that I’m With Her. I hope you’ll join me.

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For more information on voting absentee overseas, see my post here.

Bisous,

Dana

 

 

12 thoughts on “Notes on Being an American Abroad During Election Season (Plus Why #ImWithHer)

  1. Great job! I am joining you and I am with her as well! I know exactly what you mean. I’m an American living in Thailand and this whole election has been a huge embarrassment. It’s almost time! I cannot wait until the election is over with.

  2. This election has been surreal in the worst way possible. After everything that has come out about Trump lately, it seems impossible that anyone could still defend him, and yet even in this liberal part of the country I still drive past one lone Trump sign every day. Also, videos of Trump supporters are equal parts terrifying and face palm. Good for your for putting this out there are for voting from afar!

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