Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Night in Germany

Last night I attended an election-night party hosted by the U.S. Consulate and held at Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, the state-owned radio station. The building is impressive: a high rise in the south part of Leipzig, with fountains in the spacious lobby, statuary, glass-walled elevators and offices. Security was equally impressive. There were checkpoints outside, I.D. and invitation checks inside, metal detectors and purse-checkers. I was wanded before entering an elevator to the thirteenth floor. Four years ago Germany had a near-brush with terrorism on a Dortmund train, saved from tragedy only because the bomb failed to explode.

The party was held in a series of large rooms with spectacular views, decorated with bunting and American flags. There was food, wine, little tables with piles of McCain and Obama buttons, and a huge TV screen playing CNN Europe. However, it was impossible to hear Wolf Blitzer because the band kept playing American songs: "Big Bad LeRoy Brown" and, for some reason, an assortment of Bobby Darin standards. It was a very mixed crowd: diplomats in good suits and students in jeans.

I enjoyed myself.I talked for a long time to the Honorary Consul for Sweden, a retired German banker who speaks five languages. He introduced me to many people, including Leipzig's chief of police, but since many of these people did not speak English, conversations were necessarily short. With the exception of the Honorary Consul, most Europeans were solidly for Barack Obama. The piles of McCain buttons sat untouched; the Obama buttons were pinned to jackets and sweaters.

At midnight I went home, carrying my miniature American flag. There were no results yet, since it was only 6:00 p.m. in the U.S. East Coast and the polls hadn't even closed. So I went to bed without knowing who was our president-elect. This morning I woke up, listened to a BBC replay of Obama's moving speech in Grant Park, and studied the record voter-turnout figures. Child of the '60's, I could only marvel.

The times, they are a-changin'.

7 comments:

cd said...

Yes we can.

The Pondering Tree's Alpha Site said...

Just as I said at Charlie's blog, I'm so glad we were more concerned with currying favor with the International Community than electing a Commander in Chief.

Just great.

I predict an imminent redeployment of troops from Iraq to Darfur as a show of our new compliance with our "new friends."

Glad I'm not in uniform to suffer it.

S. F. Murphy
Dissident in his own country
Exile in his own genre

Luke said...

Insane wingnut rants aside, this is a thrilling moment in our history. It revives hope, shows change and progress are possible, if in baby steps... My faith and hope in this nation are restored.

qiihoskeh said...

They played Mac the Knife???

It's a good thing you know the police chief now, in case you're ever arrested on the tram. :)

Mike Flynn said...

Nancy said:
"The times they are a-changin'"

That reminded me of this:
http://sendables.jibjab.com/sendables/1191/time_for_some_campaignin#/teaser/1191

John said...

I have to agree with the jibjab.com video. Funny how 2 Senators who may have been responsible for passing bills that got us into our current mess, or not supporting bills that might have prevented our current situation should suddenly be running as the President we need for change. If change is what we really need, shouldn't we start with Congress? We continually re-elect people simply because we are comfortable with a name (just look at Alaska's Ted Stevens). Coming from a state with 1 ex-governor recently out of prison, 1 ex-governor currently in prison, and some question as to the status of our current governor I find it appalling that some of our elected officials can commit crimes and have the audacity to be completely surprised when convicted for them. I am glad, and proud, that so many people turned out and voted, but what we really need to change is the job security our Congressional incumbents feel. I only hope that President-elect Obama has enough support from our current Congress to bring about the changes we really need. :-)

bluesman miike Lindner said...

As a patriot, I wish President-elect Obama a successful and historic term in office.

As a realist (read: cynic), I must quote Churchill after Hitler got his way over Czechoslovakia:
We are in the midst of a first-class disaster.