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Obama Wins: "The World Has A New Emperor"

Posted on Nov 5, 2008 | 9 comments

So reads a headline on one of Italy’s national newspapers. I’m overwhelmed with pride and excitement beyond belief. I thought it might be nice for people to see some of the press here, as I think sometimes we don’t realize the real concrete impact America has on the rest of the world. All of my experience abroad has been during the Bush administration. I touched down in Padova for my study abroad program on September 6, 2001. I was completing my master’s degree in London during the run up to the Bush/Kerry election. I’ve never considered myself a big patriot, but as many ex-pats know, when you move abroad you effectively end up being the cultural and political ambassador for the entire nation, whether you like it or not. One of the top 5 questions I get here is, “Did you vote for Bush” or “What do you think of Bush”? Don’t get me wrong, Italians are very friendly with Americans and many still have that fascination with the American Dream, but they don’t understand. They don’t understand what we’re doing or why, so they ask. How do you explain when you don’t get it yourself? Now I know, Italy is in a whole mess of its own (Hello? Berlusconi? Again? Really?). However, it’s easy to cast stones and the reality is, as the world’s leader, everyone looks to us.

Beyond anything, I just can’t believe how much pride I felt in my country watching CNN via web last night (I made it until 3 am…once I knew Obama has PA and OH, I knew it was all good). Just to see the voter turnout, the young, old, black, white all get passionate about the election. For people to realize that their vote does count. For it to be something to be ashamed of for you to say you didn’t. These are good things. These are great things. These are the things that show the world America is still the country I know it is. A country where even when things look desperate, we know how to fight our way out of. We get it, we’ve seen things are bad, we know let them get there. But the difference is, we won’t let them stay that way. Let us hope that will be an inspiration to other countries, Italy included, who need to pull themselves up and move forward. It won’t be easy and it won’t be fast, but there’s hope. And for now, hope is enough.

* There were celebrations all over Italy last night. Some organized by the Italian Pd (Partita Democratica), some by ex-pat groups, and some just by Italians. Take a look here for a selection of photos. NYC/Caribbean Ragazza actually attended some events here in Rome (I was in bed, sorry, had to get up for work!). She’s posting photos later in the week, but you can check out her impressions here.

9 Comments

  1. Grazie for the link Jessica. I really enjoy your photos.

    I am going to try and post some photos tomorrow. Blogger was acting up the other day. Hopefully it’s fixed.

  2. Thanks nyc, no problem at all. I really wished I’d gotten out to one of the events in town, but wasn’t able to make it. I look forward to seeing your photos! I saw today coming into work that the Pd has posters up all over the city with Obama and the tagline “The World Is Changing.” Brought a smile to my face.

  3. Nice post Jess. Surprisingly there is not much Obama related here in Paris. Bizarre, no?

  4. Petu – In some ways I’m not surprised about Paris because I think the Italians are still much more inspired by the idea of America and the American dream. Whereas in France it’s not seen as cool to be pro-American, I feel. Also the Pd is desperately trying to use this win in their favor.

  5. A very thoughtful post. You are so right about being an ambassador when abroad. You may not agree with what’s going on at home but you end up defending it nevertheless.

  6. Thank you. I’m interested to see what sort of new questions the Obama administration will bring once the inauguration happens.

  7. Hi Jessica,
    I enjoyed the link. And I’m still smiling from last November. After voting since 1960, I actually got out and knocked on doors–never too old to learn!
    Joan

  8. Hi Joan – Yes, it is amazing how mobilized people were this time around no? Definitely made me proud.

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