Hip to Hip on the Paris Pews
Monday, February 9, 2004
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
While politics is certainly not what Parler Paris is about, it would be negligent of me not to report on one of the most unusual events in the history of the American community in Paris. It seemed like everyone was there — 700 other Americans hip to hip on the pews of the American Church. I have never seen so many Americans in one room in Paris. This was Friday night at the Democratic Caucus, not Easter Mass.
I hung around at Pont Alma reading magazine covers at a newsstand to kill time thinking that if I showed up earlier than 6:30 p.m. I’d be the first one there. Boy, that was wrong. As I approached the Eglise Americaine on the quai d’Orsay, the line had already formed onto the sidewalk to enter. Since I had neglected to bring my passport, I was relegated to “observer” rather than “voter,” but no matter, observing was half the fun — it was very exciting.
Jean Taquet, an active member of the church, was scurrying around helping the organizers who quickly realized that it would be impossible to hold the caucus in the auditorium where it had been planned (it only holds 300). He and others stopped unfolding chairs to announce that everyone must move into the nave of the church itself. In 2000, only 50 had gathered, so a turn-out of this size was a complete surprise to everyone.
“We had to keep reprinting straw ballots and the registration forms necessary to participate in the caucus, and we totally ran out of name tags. Is there a message here?”…words in the bulletin I received this morning from Democrats Abroad. The message I personally gather from the turn-out is that the Democrats will be turning-out at the polls as well, this time around.
The caucus opened with a series of videos, mostly TV ads pro-Democratic platform, anti-Republican/anti-Bush. It was difficult to hear for lack of good acoustics, but the laughs and groans could be heard among the crowd. While registration for the straw vote and platform discussions were going on, people were registering to vote in the national election and/or in their state primaries in the auditorium next door.
On a few separate occasions, a wild, unannounced protester would take the podium and start screaming soapbox messages only to be hauled away as quickly as possible by the caucus “bouncers.”
The Platform had been prepared with eight planks, on war in Iraq, terrorism, peace, the Middle-East, the death penalty, the twin deficits, women’s rights and voting rights and then some additional amendments were accepted from the floor — it passed unanimously.
The French and American (Fox, CNN, LCI etc.) press covered the event — TV cameras were everywhere and reporters where interviewing attendees who were widely quoted the next day on French radio and television stations. “The French press, well informed about the intricacies of the caucus-primary system, seems to be paying more attention to this election than it did to the previous presidential one.”
The next few months leading up to November 2nd are sure to be interesting ones…I can envision many discussions at Parler Parlor among the international enclave of members about the upcoming election. The French are as fascinated by it as we Americans are.
A la prochaine…
Parler Paris Après Midi meets tomorrow at 3 p.m. Don’t miss it. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for the details.
On another note, attorney Sam Okoshken, is urgently seeking an “Administrative Assistant” — “someone special.” Must be fluent in English and French, working papers are a must. Email Sam Okoshken …but only if you truly qualify.
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* Further resources:
* Save $100 when you register before February 15th! Learn how to live and invest in France — we’re meeting in San Francisco this March –
* Though France might seem as familiar as any other Western country, the truth is, from paying taxes to having a baby — things are done differently in France. Read the stories how other people maneuvered the system.
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Hip To Hip On The Paris Pews
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