It’s been interesting being out of the country during this political season. Although we are away, we certainly have not been spared the details. Even if I wanted to feign ignorance, social media makes sure we are kept up to speed; our preferred news outlets are keeping us well informed, and my son has talked about politics and the current crop of politicians Every. Single. Day. (Seriously. Every day. I know he is spreading his independent thought and critical analysis wings and testing his rhetoric and comedic muscles, but give it a rest, son!)
Perhaps the most fascinating and interesting part has been how prominent American primary elections are in Europe. I didn’t expect to see such detailed coverage of the US primary race on the BBC when we were in London, but there it was. While we still do not have TV here at the house, in the car we listen to the radio, and though it is all in German, it still includes a fair amount about the US during the international sections. I doubt many Americans could speak with any depth about *current* leaders of most European countries (myself included) never mind *potential* leaders. In general, we have encountered people here who are more interested and more educated about other countries and about global happenings.
Which is fabulous and all, at least until they ask us to explain Donald Trump and his apparent popularity and success. They tilt their head and give an encouraging, frozen smile as they ask about Trump in such a way that communicates they think it’s a joke — they hope it’s a joke — and they are hoping we as representative Americans will let them in on the joke. At the very least their asking us about the crop of candidates seems a litmus test to see if we are the type of American who supports Trump, because that says a lot about a person over here (and over there). So despite being told that talking politics is considered rude here in Bavaria, we are asked a lot about US politics. Mostly we laugh it off, shake our heads in commiserate confusion, and try to move the conversation away.
I am not interested in talking politics. I am not interested in discussing the candidates. And I am not interested in examining every crazy or corrupt or flawed or fractured fiber of each candidate. The reason I don’t want to discuss it with these strangers — and even my friends or my family — is that I love my country deeply. I love it so deeply that I often can’t find articulate expressions for those feelings. I value my rights as a citizen of the US and I will fight fiercely to protect those rights for me and for others. I cherish the right to vote and I will encourage everyone eligible to make the effort.
Another right I value is the right to a secret ballot. This year I voluntarily waived my right to a secret ballot by voting absentee, but that doesn’t mean that I will tell Elliot for whom I voted. It drives him crazy not to know. The reason I don’t tell him, or anyone usually, for whom I vote is that it is no one’s business but mine. I cherish that right to hold close to my heart my hopes for the next leader of our state, country, town, and school.
So we will continue following the elections closely and hoping for the best for our nation, but I have to tell ya, the way things are shaping up over there, I think we picked a good few years to be out of the country.