05 November 2012

Are you . . . Obama?

This is the question that some Brazilians have timorously asked of Mark and me in these last weeks before the U.S. presidential election. Are we Obama. Mind you, these are people who don't know us very well, because those who know us don't have to ask. To us it seems transparent that two Americans living in Brazil, immersed in its culture, open to learning other perspectives on life and how to live it from people who are really good at it, who prefer havaianas to high heels and bandanas to baseball caps, are de facto Democrats. But some people have to ask. And so they do, courteously and respectfully, so as not to offend on the off chance we are . . . the other guy.

These are Romney flip-flops
These are Búzios flip-flops

Generally, a Republican who opts to live outside the United States stays close to the two things he loves most, his money (Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland) and a good golf course (Scotland, Barbados, Australia). If you meet a Republican here in Brazil, you're probably visiting an oil-producing center, like nearby Macaé, and the Republican is probably just doing a two-year temporary stint. And if you chance to find a Republican in Búzios, my guess is you're just playing through at the Búzios Golf Club & Resort. Oh, not that Democrats don't sometimes play golf as well, they do. After all, was golf not the sport of choice for Clinton and Obama's recent "family- that-plays-together-stays-together" reconciliation?

But let's put my little jibes aside for a moment. Let's focus on the fact that if Brazilians could, they would overwhelmingly vote for Obama. Ninety-three per cent of them, according to a recent poll. How is it that they instinctively understand how antipático the other guy is? For that matter, how is it that the whole world instinctively understands? An October 25th article in the global edition of the New York Times reported that if the rest of the world got to vote, President Obama would be re-elected in a landslide. For the rest of the world, this election is a no-brainer. I can't help but roll my eyes whenever I hear one or another Republican speechify about how the United States holds a special leadership role in the world. I think they ought to come out here in the world and see what the world might have to say on the subject. And I think they ought to take a good look at this BBC-prepared graph:

Who will win tomorrow? This is the question Mark and I have been fielding from Brazilians who think we have some special insight. We tell people we don't know. We discuss what happened in 2000 when Gore won, and then lost. We talk about what the Republicans are doing to steal this election, from buying up the companies that own voting machines to sending letters to Hispanic voters urging them to get out and vote on the 8th of November! (I'll wait until that sinks in . . .) We talk about the latest polls, we talk about how polls are skewed, and we remind our fellow buzianos how on the day before the recent mayoral election here the polls showed the sitting mayor ahead, with 41%, and his closest competitor with only 32%, but that it was the competitor, Dr. André, who actually won with a slam-dunk 48.55%. Who will win tomorrow? I don't know. We've already voted, and all we can do is keep a bottle on ice and remember Scarlett O'Hara's immortal words:

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