What Europe Taught Me About American Politics

“Bush est une erreur,” my cab driver said as we sped away from the Charles DeGaulle Airport.

“OUI!” I replied.

My cab driver, clad in a Rochas jacket and driving a Mercedes, quickly became my first insight into the European view of American politics. I was quite fascinated by the little gray-haired Frenchman, who was eager to talk to me about the presidential candidates of a country that he had never visited and to which, as he told me, the French felt increasingly alienated. I immediately felt guilty that my knowledge of the French president Sarkozy consists of a partially-read article from The Economist, a Vogue article about his wife, Carla Bruni, and the fact that he looks freakily like my French teacher.

I met quite a few Obama supporters in Europe, including a Danish tour guide, a good-looking German businessman, some intellectual Californians, two cab drivers, several random members of our tour group, and assorted French people. I even saw an Obama pin attached to someone’s beret!

While Republicans go on our news channels and repeat the same refrain that got us into trouble in the first place, that of “We Don’t Care What Europe Thinks Because They Don’t Vote In The Election,” Europe has made it clear to me that America would reclaim its benevolent image with an Obama presidency. There is no other way to put it, but I am so flipping tired of listening to the crazy Religious Right spouting the same divisive jargon that led to the election of the most harmful president in American history. It MATTERS what Europe thinks because the world is more interconnected than ever before, and we cannot pretend that our level of interconnection with the world doesn’t exist. A policy of diplomacy is one of the main attributes absent in the Bush administration, and it won’t change by electing John McCain, who dismissed Obama’s desire for talking out our differences as “a failed policy.” If we stop our saber-rattling, “We’re America, Dammit” approach to foreign policy, then hopefully we’ll be able to reach a point where we can talk to our enemies and say “I do agree,” just as the Danish tour guide said as she pointed at my Obama pin.