Greener Pastures in Luxembourg

Living Through the American Election Abroad

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Most days I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over what I am seeing in this year’s election. Most days I try not to cry. With everything that is going on in this world, including the disenchanted refugees, the terror attacks and a multitude of other issues here in Europe and the rest of the world, I am even more upset and ashamed of what is going on in America. I am thankful that CNN International doesn’t showcase the election quite as insanely as the American version. So, at least I am not going through the terror of many of my friends who are asking, “What happened to America.”

Being removed from it all has been a blessing for me because if I was there I would have had a serious mental breakdown by now. I am on the verge as it is. Living abroad has actually opened up my mind and made me get more into American politics from afar.

When you live outside your bubble you see things very differently. I talk to different people every day and see how people from around the world view not only the world, but America. I rarely meet an American. And when I do they share the same shame and anguish as I do about this election cycle and what America has seemed to become.

What do non-Americans think about America right now? When I first mention I am American they kind of smirk and ask if I am voting for Trump. I of course say no and follow up with a quip about telling people I am Canadian after the election if Trump is elected and getting my French citizenship. Of course I laugh when I say this but I am serious.

I am finding it harder and harder to see what has become of the America I love. Where is the compassion? Instead of people helping their neighbors, in the world I grew up in, it is friend or enemy. People can’t seem to have a discussion about politics or religion without picking sides and alienating anyone that doesn’t believe in the same things they do.

What do people I meet think about the election? I have yet to meet one person that believes that Trump will be elected. But, as the discussion progresses we talk about what would happen if he does become president. Despite the havoc he would reign on America, it would be catastrophic for the rest of the world.  People look up to America as a model, a country that invites people in and let’s them pursue their dreams. Now people are shying away from even visiting America for a vacation let alone moving there. When I tell them about how the political system and America really works in regards to education, healthcare, race relations and a myriad of other areas they just gasp and wonder how we can say we are a blueprint to democracy.

Thankfully I have been able to meet up with like-minded and devoted Americans who really do care about the future of our America and want to make a difference. I am a member of Democrats Aboard and have done many activities with my new friends. Yes we discuss politics, but we also discuss our lives and how America has shaped us and what we miss about being away. We also discuss how bad things have become and mourn the America of the past. But, we try to make a difference despite being thousands of miles away.

Recently we went to American based companies as non-partisan volunteers and registered people to vote and to obtain their absentee ballots. Everyone we met was excited to vote and really thinks this year is key to the future of our nation. We have gathered to watch the debates and discussed them. This week we had a dinner where the American Ambassador to Luxembourg attended and talked with us about how this election will shape the future of our country.

I have become more involved in politics this year than I have in many years. Despite being abroad, I feel like I can make a difference. It is upon each and every one of us to not just talk about it and gripe and moan about how bad it is but to do something about it. I have less power as an American abroad but every one of my friends in the US has the power to vote, talk with their neighbors and friends and change the things that are not working effectively.  The presidential election is very important but the local and state elections are just as important.

My ballot was 7 pages long. I researched and found out which initiatives and people aligned with my view of the future. Everyone in American needs to do the same thing. Treat this election like you would the welfare of your family. We the people are in charge of our destiny. As the saying goes, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Educate yourself and vote.

 

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