Which Country Do You Want to Call Your Own?
By the time you read this, election day in the U.S. will be over. That doesn’t mean we necessarily know the outcome.
We’ve been in confinement now since Saturday. In some ways it feels regressive, but in other ways, this is a new and different kind of confinement. It’s also like having another retreat that could reset our internal programs and re-energize us. It’s all a matter of point of view.
When we came out of confinement in June, we did it with reckless abandon. All those pent-up frustrations to get out there, socialize and get the job done got the best of us. That’s why we’re back in this predicament. The lockdown is not quite as strict or intense as it was last March when the rules about leaving home and congregating kept our hands washed and tied from doing much of anything other than food marketing. This time around we know how to deal with it. Our cabinets are stocked with masks (at a bargain price) and sanitizing gel, when a few months ago these essentials were tough to come by. We know what to purchase at the market and how to organize our meals (for those of us not used to cooking). We know how to communicate with our clients and friends via Zoom, something we didn’t even know existed at that time. So, it’s a new and improved form of confinement.
Boy, life sure has changed since the advent of the virus. The year 2020 will make a major mark on history as there’s virtually nothing untouched worldwide by the pandemic. Some things have turned for the worse and other things for the better. At least, we’re learning some new tricks, some new emotions we didn’t even know we had as well as some new strengths…or weaknesses.
In spite of living in France, I’ve been very focused as of late on the U.S. elections like most Americans I know. The divisiveness between the two political sides is the most acute the U.S. has seen since the Civil War. In some ways, it already has been, and perhaps will continue to be, a Civil War. It’s what frightens me most. And one thing for sure, it’s fascinating if not disturbing. While I can’t see myself ever living in the U.S. again, it’s still my home and innate culture. One might say, “You can take the girl out of the nation, but you can’t take the nation out of the girl.”
We Americans living outside of the U.S. represent our country on a personal level to the native French around us. There is the stereotypical American, such as Netflix’s Emily, but then there is the American community made up of long-standing residents who have overcome and adopted a lot of the cultural differences between us. The French who know us also know America through our eyes, not just through the eyes of the media. When you live in a country that is considered “Democratic Socialism” like France, we Americans experience both sides of the coin: capitalism vs socialism. It’s easier for us to see the assets and liabilities of both on both sides. We know that somewhere in the middle is more of a utopia, if not perfect.
Last night I settled in front of the TV with the remote control handy, toggling between CNN and France 24. France 24 did an excellent job of reporting on the election from an unbiased point of view with a team of reporters on the ground around the U.S. to give the French a glimpse of what’s going on Stateside. It also gave time to other things happening around the world, such as the gunman who killed four people in central Vienna Monday night—declared an Islamist terror attack. With the U.S. election overshadowing everything else, this didn’t get as much press as it would normally. I almost missed it entirely so enthralled with the race to the White House.
In this election, early voting broke all records. Over 100 million Americans voted early, including all of us expatriates who voted absentee. In the last election of 2016, less than half that number, 47 million, voted early. Early voters tend to be Democrats, too, anxious to vote Mr. Trump out of office and prove that mail-in ballots are legitimate.
I left the TV on all night while dozing on and off. Here it is early on Wednesday morning and we still don’t have an outcome. Donald Trump just declared himself the winner, even though that is very far from the truth. Yes, the race is just as close as it was in 2016 with Trump vs Clinton, but it’s too early to make that claim. I am just as shocked and horrified as I was four years ago. Either way, whichever candidate wins, it is still disheartening to know that so many Americans have such a narrow view of what their lives should look like.
Americans living abroad have denounced that and broadened their point of view. Therefore, they are politically more centrist, or in the case of U.S. politics, more left than the average American living in America. Remember, we living in France have universal health care for all that costs us very little and performs very well. We have high quality education for our children that is provided free by the state, even through university. We have employment laws that protect the workers. We have fewer poor, fewer rich and a larger middle class. We don’t live in fear of gun-toting citizens who are quick to mug us or blow our heads off if we disagree with them. We have an eye on a more ecologically sound future for our kids by addressing the ills of climate change. We have an open-arm policy to immigrants who will bring their assets to our communities, such as Americans just like us. We have an open-minded view on the world and everyone in it.
Even if the Democrats win the election, there is something with which we must come to terms with: Is this the country we want to call our own?
At this moment, I am confined to beat the Covid-19 pandemic because it’s the right thing to do and happy nonetheless because I’m living in France where I feel safe and taken care of. If you feel like I do—disappointed by my own compatriots—join us here for a richer, happier, more equitable life. You won’t be sorry you did.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
(boxing Trump on election day)