“We love politics” – Democrats Abroad

Saturday night I had the chance to take part in something quite interesting. A friend of CP’s was hosting a meeting of the Paris chapter of Democrats Abroad, and invited him and his guests to come along. We would get to take part in a teleconference involving five different cities in Europe and the States, talking with Barack Obama’s sister, who is just getting involved in his campaign to be nominated as the Democrats’ Presidential candidate.

The evening was in fact a fundraiser and a way to urge local Americans to get involved in the political process and vote in the primary, hopefully getting behind Obama.

The teleconference was a little on the lightweight side (as the sister is new to the campaign, and it was unscripted – points that were weaknesses according to our group), and Paris was the only participant city that had a question prepared (and was only allowed one question, unfortunately), but after it was over, the guests stayed on to watch one of Obama’s speeches on YouTube, and to discuss some of the issues further.I found it interesting to follow the conversation, given the recent election victory of Kevin Rudd, and the surprise (in a way) of a Howard-free future. That sense of possibility that change brings is quite euphoric for me still, as I left the country just days after the election.

Some of the people present spoke about Obama having the potential to be a truly inspiring and visionary leader, in the style of Kennedy. Others expressed concern that he is simply too new or green, that he doesn’t have the experience of all the mud and crap that the Republicans will dig up and throw at him the moment he is nominated. Also, that if the priority is to get the Republicans out, then the most important thing is to have a candidate who has enough popular appeal to be able to beat them, who will not polarise people and risk splitting the vote. Pragmatic, therefore, not idealism.

This was countered by stating that a fearful vote is the worst way to vote (ie. not choosing with your preferred candidate because you don’t think they will ultimately win). I then thought of myself on November 24th, deciding in the end to vote for the party that ultimately needed the seat in order to knock Howard out, rather than for the candidate that best represented and reflected my own views and values.

I learned too about a particular group of the American electorate known as the Reagan Democrats (people who votes for Reagan despite being traditional Democrat voters). They sounded a little like Australia’s ‘aspirational voters’ – Howard’s battlers who he betrayed with WorkChoices.

Also present was a French journalist who writes a blog called I Love Politics – focussing on US politics. I didn’t get to chat to her but she seemed interesting and her blog is great. I love that it is called I Love Politics – as many of us probably do – and that she is a French journalist loving US politics. The site is in French, which is a shame for those of us who don’t know the language well enough to understand it. To my unsophisticated, novice eye, however, it seemed a great read.

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