I am not an expert on American politics, nor on the current electoral environment that I find myself in, but precisely because I find myself in this situation I would like to dedicate some of my blogs to this topic. Although I am not an objective observer (as you will notice shortly), I think it is safe to claim that I am less partisan than most Americans.
The House representative from DC has no vote (besides on procedural matters and in committees) and there is no DC representation in the Senate whatsoever (because DC is not a state, technically). This explains the slogan “Taxation without Representation” on all DC license plates. Therefore, it is ironic that the residents of this district are nevertheless very interested in politics. In addition, DC happens to be the most liberal spot in the entire country, with almost 40% of the residents identifying themselves that way [Gallup Politics]. This fact distorts my reality a little bit, because I have not come to know any other city as well as this one. Visiting Richmond last week did alter my perspective somewhat, showing me that there is also a large, strong base of Republican voters in the United States.
Having said that, I did find myself sitting in the wrong section of the audience that came out to watch the presidential debate last Wednesday. Even though I have mainly met Democrats here, I found myself surrounded by Republicans, cheering on Romney and booing in response to Obama. I stayed put there the entire debate and it was fun to applaud for Obama now and then, just to see people turn around trying to stare me into silence. In general, the debate was fun to watch, although I must admit it got a little bit too detailed from time to time. I would have liked to hear about the most fundamental differences between the two candidates, but instead they (especially the President) engaged in discussions on details of each other’s policy proposals, both trying to appeal to voters in the center rather than their traditional left and right wing voter bases, which is not surprising, but it does not make for a great debate. In addition, I would have expected for Obama to pick up speed and go for the easy kill by bringing up Romney’s “47%” videotape that was leaked several weeks ago. I think this video is critical in illustrating the difference in approach between both candidates and where they are coming from: Romney, the white, older millionaire, and; Obama, the black, younger candidate, from a less wealthy background. Even though most people have probably already seen the video, I have included it for this sake – note the quote “And so my job is not to worry about these people” – Shocking!
Throughout the rest of October we will have two more presidential debates and this week we will have the delight of watching the two running mates, Paul Ryan and Joe Biden, try to outdo each other in the debate arena. The other two presidential debates hold a lot of promise now that we have not been given the pleasure of seeing Obama in full-fledged frontal attack yet. In addition to looking forward to these debates, next week I am joining the George Washington College Democrats on a campaigning trip to Ohio. I have absolutely no idea what to expect but I am looking forward to seeing another part of the country that is not outspokenly Democratic. Consider this blog an introduction to my next entry where I will report on this trip, which will hopefully turn out to be very exciting.