The US Presidential Election and Dutch Deja vu –by ExpatrordinaryAmsterdam

Sixteen years ago when living as an expat in The Hague, I mailed my absentee ballot home to the US and looked forward to a climate change believer and Democratic nominee to be my next President. That didn’t happen. As Americans at home and abroad waited weeks for the outcome of the 2000 election, ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, George W became our President. That was disappointing. And the process of counting and recounting votes with America looking like a third world country to the rest of the world was just a little embarrassing. At least I did not hail from Florida.

For this very strange and historic election, I mailed my absentee ballot in over a month ago to a small town in MA knowing it would not be opened, but at least the candidate I supported would win my state. I also made sure my 18 year-old son studying in a very red southern state received and mailed in his absentee ballot as well. Even though his vote would also not be opened or count in that southern state, I wanted to impress upon him the importance of participating in the process.

I woke up two days ago to a real shocker. And I will say it threw me for a giant loop. My expat friends living here from Croatia, Australia, Britain and other parts of the USA all texted me and each other pangs of disbelief and asked ME “How did this happen?” I started to feel the sense of deja vu bringing me back 16 years to The Hague – only this time it was mixed with grief and fear.

While a Bush Presidency was disappointing then, it was not too hard to swallow. As I type this blog post in my white pantsuit in Amsterdam, still in shock, full of sadness and disbelief, trying hard to swallow what feels like sharp glass a President who does not represent me or half of my country, I am experiencing a deja vu of epic proportions.

Watching CNN for a couple hours the morning this election was called, my visiting cousin and I tried to console each other and experienced some of the many stages of grief and loss. In case you haven’t grieved in a while, they go like this:

1) Denial and Isolation – check

2) Anger – check

3) Bargaining – that is happening now

4) Depression – check

5) Acceptance – not sure that will happen soon

I am going to add a 6th – Fear

Holland is in its rainy dark chilly stage now and the rain pouring down outside that fateful day seemed to be crying for me and all those who thought the US would see its first woman President. European newspapers at Dutch newsstands all had full page pictures of the US President-elect and captions that did not flatter our wonderful country. Another had a crying Lady Liberty in despair. Even the young and friendly Dutch Ziggo (cable guy) representative helping to fix some cable issues yesterday expressed his condolences to me. I am not alone in my feelings living in this foreign and friendly country. And once again, I am more than a little embarrassed.

 

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What’s done is done and the Electoral College has spoken. That’s the way it is in the USA, congressional districts mapped out in each state set up to select a new President. The popular vote would have put a woman in the White House. Another text question I needed to answer and explain to some of my foreign friends.

The electoral college will officially vote on December 19th and on January 20th a reality TV star billionaire whose racist, bigoted, sexist epitaphs are too many to forget will be sworn in as our 45th President.

In my current stage of grief and trying really hard to look on the bright side, I am bargaining with my husband to stay here for the next four years. Yes, you all can come stay with me at any time.

 

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