Thursday, October 25, 2012

Long distance democracy

In 2008 the U.S. presidential election fell during a week I had off from classes in Rome, so I, of course, was traveling. Travel schedules and being a tourist meant that sleep was more important than staying up all night to watch the results live, so I went to bed at a normal time the day of the election. The next morning at breakfast the hostel cafeteria was buzzing with energy as people from all over the world commented on Obama's victory in all varieties of languages.

For the first time in eight years, the United States had a president that was perceived positively overseas. I noticed the change in attitude towards Americans shortly after. A couple days later I was taking a taxi in Madrid, chatting with the driver. He asked where I was from, I told him the U.S. His face lit up with a huge grin. "¡Con Obama!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. Yes, I affirmed smiling back, with Obama.

 This is my fourth time voting from overseas (2008 presidential election, 2010 midterms, 2012 primary, and now), and the third foreign address I've registered with. I guess you can say it's routine by now. I pay the price of an international stamp to mail in my ballot (0.85€ at the moment), but democracy still feels so good.
My actual ballot, which I mailed in a couple weeks ago. Naturally, I love the fact that it's in both English and Spanish. It could be because I vote from my home state of California, which has a high Spanish speaking population, but if this were nation wide I would be ecstatic. Americans voting from other states, do your ballots look like this? Are they multilingual?

Now I just need to find an election-watch party to attend. This not-so-patriotic expat just might wear red white and blue on November 6 for a change. After that, it will depend on the results.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What the NY Times didn't say

On September 24, The New York Times published a series of photos titled ¨In Spain, Austerity and Hunger¨ detailing how the economic crisis has affected Spain. Yes, the crisis is real here. I personally know people who have lost jobs, who have had to move to other countries to find work, who are struggling to make ends meet. This is the image of Spain that The New York Times has presented to America. All photo credit to Samuel Aranda for the New York Times.
A Cuban immagrant who moved to a mobile home after losing his construction job
An anti-austerity demonstration in Jaén
It´s not pretty, and it´s completely real. But it is far from the whole story of Spain, and no where near an accurate representation of what it´s like to live here. With Mitt Romney making comments that he doesn´t want the United States to end up like Spain, I ask myself, what does America really know about Spain? They don´t eat tacos and enchiladas, they are not all tan and dark haired like our image of Mexicans, and most importantly, they do not all dig in trash bins for their food. Read what the New York Times has to say, look at the pictures, because they´re all real, but then, look at this.

A Spanish news network, Antena 3, has responded. They issused a call for photos of the other side of Spain, the part that wasn´t included in the New York Times. I personally submitted several. I haven´t seen them published yet, but I´ll include them here:
 Spaniards learning about American culture. Something Americans could use a little of in reverse.
 Beautiful landscapes.
 Mouth-watering cuisine.

Spain is not a third world country. It's going through an economic crisis, but at the end of the day, Spaniards will always take care of each other. Explore other pictures that have been submitted. You will see Spain and its people, from all walks of life, in their everyday life in this beautiful country- exactly the part that American media is missing.