I came home to find some rather inflammatory comments on yesterday's blog post. While I don't appreciate the way the comments were delivered, they do bring up a point I wanted to address and didn't yesterday because I wrote my post in a hurry.
In 2004, I voted for Kerry. This year, I voted for Obama. My President now is George Bush, and my President in January will be Barack Obama. But between last year at this time, or Monday at this time, or whenever, and today, nothing about me has changed. And nothing about me was going to change depending on the outcome of this election. I still voted Obama, whether Obama won or McCain won. But, because I'm an American, and I have to represent my government to a certain degree, even though I have not changed, people's perception of me has.
Whether it's right or wrong that people see me differently now based on an election in which I had the same role no matter who won, it is still something I have to live with. Even if it is wrong for people to pin the government on individuals, it does make me feel better that people are excited and happy about my country again, and especially so because I myself prefer Obama to Bush! We are representatives of the United States and we are asked to explain and defend our country and our people, and their decisions, while we're here. I do it - even when I don't agree with the views I'm defending, I try to explain where they are coming from, while also trying to make sure people know it's something with which I don't personally identify. You get used to it, and I don't mind doing it, but there's something so much more relaxed now, even if it's just for a while, while everyone is still hopeful and in a party mood. I just feel relieved, at least for a few moments, that I agree with something my country did, and so does almost everyone around me.
Here's what some other, more eloquent American expats are saying:
"Today I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Being an expat while George W. Bush was president generated a constant background sense of unease. You never knew when you would next be verbally assaulted because of the President's latest action. These unhinged ranters were bad enough, but the sincere, reasonable people were somehow worse. They would explain how they had long admired the United States, spend an enriching year there as an exchange student, kept up with American friends and acquaintances, and maintained a benevolent interest in all things American. They even gave George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt after 9/11. Then the lawlessness, brutality, and glib incompetence began eating away at their image of Bush, and the seeming acquiescence of ordinary Americans in Bush's acts undermined their faith in the nation as a whole." German Joys
"A funny thing happened to me today. For the first time in eight years of living in
Europe, I walked around wishing that everyone around me knew I was American." This Non-American Life
"I am proud of us today. And I feel like something almost forgotten, some fine ideal, has come striding forward through the murk and disillusion of my brain, just like Obama striding across that stage in Chicago last night . . . there's something truly grand about that place, over there, that I still call 'home.'" Euro Like Me
"I think I can say I’m proud, today, by association at least, with no reservation, to be an American. There is still some good in us. It has been a long time since the entire world could rejoice with us about anything. The sense of relief is profound." benperry.net
"For the entire time I've lived abroad it has been my habit to cringe when a well-meaning person has asked where I hail from originally. "Ummm... the United States." . . . I know that today for the first time in many years, I will be able to hold my head up and answer the question of my national origin... not with my normal hesitation... not with fear of retribution... but with PRIDE." Snooker in Berlin
"Then I went outside to go pick up some groceries. It was then I felt different. I thought about the fact that my country, which had for so long been the butt of jokes, the target of so much rancor, and a cause for disappointment had done what we all thought was impossible. We elected a black man to the highest office of the government, and did so resoundingly. Old people, young people, black, white, Asian, rich, poor. I suddenly felt flush with emotion. There may have been an errant tear from the side of my eye. I suddenly wished I had a big fat sign on my back that said, I'm American! And I would have been proud to wear it." Pie Pants