Fréjus, France

Fréjus, France
Aqueduc Romain

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reactions to our historic election...

It is very cool to be in a foreign country while we make history at home! We are obviously delighted with the results: excited like the rest of the world for a fresh start, deeply touched by the historic nature of it, proud that we elected the smart candidate for once, and hopeful for our future. We also realize that he will be inaugurated to immense problems and challenges thus expectations are tempered with reality. Whereas, Lisa and I have stayed distanced from it all, Irie has been excited for "BarrackO" since before we ever left home and was just bubbling over with happiness today. We watched, and cried over, his acceptance speech this morning online together as a family. If you somehow missed it, it's worth 16 minutes of your time.

But enough about how we feel, how about France and the rest of the world? France has a crush on Obama, feeling I think, that if we could elect a minority President, then it's possible anywhere, here included. Lisa and her friend Athena were sitting at a cafe this afternoon and a young man heard them talking english and yelled to them "Yay Obama!" When buying a newspaper at the Tabac a woman said to Lisa "It works for me...and you?" As well, the first comments today when my french teacher arrived and Irie's piano teacher arrived were about the victory and how historic/symbolic/hopeful it is.

This is a great quote we found very moving: "This is the fall of the Berlin Wall times ten," Rama Yade, France's black junior minister for human rights, told French radio. "America is rebecoming a New World. "On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes," she said.

"By choosing you, the American people have chosen change, openness and optimism. At a time when we have to confront immense challenges together, your election raises great hopes in France, in Europe and in the rest of the world." "I give you my warmest congratulations and, through me, those of all French people. "Your brilliant victory rewards a tireless commitment to serve the American people." French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a congratulations letter to Obama.

In Britain, The Sun newspaper borrowed from Neil Armstrong's 1969 moon landing in describing Obama's election as "one giant leap for mankind."

"Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." — Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president.

In Barcelona, an artist made his own tribute to Obama after his victory.

"It's the beginning of a different era in the U.S. The United States is a country to dream about, and for us black Brazilians, it is even easier to do so now." — Emmanuel Miranda, a 53-year-old police officer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"Americans have struck a deadly blow to racism all over the world. Americans have regained themselves and have regained the American dream. The picture of the U.S. that was disfigured by the Republicans in the past eight years fell from the wall today. The picture of the America we had in our minds has taken its place." — Prominent Saudi columnist Dawood al-Shirian.

"What we have seen in talks with him, I met with him in person and in a small group, is a man who understands, who listens and who thinks. I estimate that the basis of our common interests will bring to a continuation of a policy of listening and cooperation to deal with the important challenges for us and the United States." — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

"The election of Barack Obama as president has finally broken the greatest barrier of prejudice in human history." — Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel published a statement on the chancellery Web page offering her congratulations to Obama on his "historic victory." She writes: "At the beginning of your administration, the world faces momentous challenges. I am convinced that, with closer and more trusting cooperation between the US and Europe, we can resolutely confront the novel challenges and dangers facing us…. You can be sure that my government is fully aware of how important the trans-Atlantic partnership is for our futures."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said of Obama's victory: "The election of Senator Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States has taken the American people and the rest of the world with them into a new era - an era where race, colour and ethnicity, I hope, will also disappear... in politics in the rest of the world," he said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Obama had turned Martin Luther King's dream into a reality. "Twenty-five years ago Martin Luther King had a dream of an America where men and women would be judged not on the colour of their skin but on the content of their character," Rudd told reporters. "Today what America has done is turn that dream into a reality."

We had a bit of trepidation coming to Europe when the US has been so unpopular. We were motivated, however, to display the opposite of what we have seen of America's dangerous isolationism, and our enthusiasm and openness for learning about France and the French has been embraced. We are thrilled to feel a surge of pride about where we come from and our fellow citizens. Don't get us wrong, we ARE proud of our country and always have been. It IS all about great things. But America has seriously faltered of late and to see the masses take charge heartens us greatly. Next summer we'll be ready to come home.

As Time summed up: "Barack Hussein Obama did not win because of the color of his skin. Nor did he win in spite of it. He won because at a very dangerous moment in the life of a still young country, more people than have ever spoken before came together to try to save it. And that was a victory all its own."

EDIT: Picture of all the newspapers we bought this morning.


Mom & Dad Browne said...

Hey Rick:
Good Job.

American has now started to erase a stain we have had since the founding fathers.

Did you listen to McCain's speech?
Like he said he is now our president and we need to support him.

Mom & Dad

Anonymous said...

Gobama! It feels like a new day in America. Really enjoying your posts. Happy birthday, Lisa.

Rick said...

Hi Cherise! We aren't physically there, but we feel it too. We had a blast buying all the newspapers and the good will all around is very evident.

Happy belated to you too!

Anonymous said...

The last time I was in France was during the one year anniversary of 9/11. During that time I happened to hear a presentation made by the mayor of Nice. In his speach he showed considerable compassion for America.

I also found that the French were very similar to the US in that they were openly critical of their government. They shared an understanding of liberty and responsibility for all people. Perhaps this is what we have been missing in the US during these last 8 years.

As the French can see, I believe we Americans can find the hope that Barack Obama brings for all people. The US continues to be the land of opportunity for all, not just a select few.

As the french mayor said a few years ago, the US has the ability to rise up and become a great force of good in the world. This time is now upon us.


Katyy said...

Hi guys! Yes, ten days after you posted this, but I am still as overwhelmed with the election as the night I watched it!
Sadly, I had no one to celebrate with afterwards, because the entirety of my family- in all honesty, everyone in both sides of my family- were for the opposite side. I felt alienated when my dad told me to watch in the other room because I kept saying "Yes!" Everytime Obama got another state.

I hope my family will finally open their eyes when Barrack Obama soars over their low expectations.

Je ne peux pas croient! Je suis si heureux!
Je vous manque, Rick.
Bonjour et au revoir à vous, Lisa et Irie!

[J'ai eu besoin de parler francais dans ici!]

ted and ruth said...

Hi from Ashland - We continue to enjoy your blogs and really like hearing about Irie's experiences with school and friends. She may not want to come back.

Thanks too for your great coverage of the election as seen by the Europeans. Many people here continue to be excited and enthused with our president elect. January 20th can't come soon enough for me.

All's well in Ashland and we had one of the most spectacular falls we have seen. Many trees still have some very colorful leaves left but the next wind and it will be all over.

We miss you guys in Quailhaven but are happy you are enjoying your temporary country.

All the best to all of you.

(This is the second blog - for some reason the first one didn't take)