The last time I was out of the United States for any period of time was my Peace Corps placement in Chile. There were no major elections in the U.S. in that year and a half; and the only political activity that affected me personally was the election of Salvador Allende as the first socialist president of Chile. I lived amid Allende supporters, and it was an ebullient win indeed—especially in Santiago. That election, however, resulted in our departure from Chile—not due to any negative action on the part of Chile but rather to what became clear later was the U.S. involvement in Allende’s assassination and Pinochet’s takeover. We left immediately after his inauguration along with all my fellow volunteers—most of whom relocated to other countries in South America while I returned to the U.S.
Pre-internet, news from the U.S. arrived in Santiago in the form of the Herald Tribune. We used to arrive early at the newsstand waiting for its delivery every Thursday and consume it lock, stock and barrel before we’d finished lunch. Here in France, the news is available in a few keystrokes and, while the telly in our flat only transmits in French with an occasional Spanish and more infrequent Basque broadcast, it has spent a lot of time on the run-up to the election—the news about which we were happy to miss. Now, however, as the election is over, I miss the experience of having watched election results and the anticipation of victory—or even the emotion of defeat.
Presidential elections polarize folks with differing political points of view, and as a rule I choose to avoid discussions about it with those whose vote supports the “other” candidate in an effort to minimize any influence on our relationship. Even so, with us so far away, I missed the bantering of Cokie Roberts, Gwen Ifill, Brian Williams, Lawrence O’Donnell, Chris Mathews, and Rachel Maddow.
We awoke to find out that Barack Obama has been reelected to another term as President. Since I have no intention of using this blog as a political soapbox, suffice it to say that we will be happy to return to our home in the U.S. at the end of the year.