After George W. Bush secured his second term in the White House recently, The Resident asked American citizens living in Portugal what the President’s victory meant to them. The over-riding reaction was one of disappointment – not necessarily at Kerry’s loss, but at the fact that they felt America needed a change at the top, Louise Pimm reports.
AMERICAN COUPLE, Robert and Anne Berra, who live in Albufeira, described themselves as ‘bummed’ when I spoke to them. They feel as though they are stuck between ‘a rock and a hard place’. Although they saw Kerry as having quite a weak and poorly laid out oppositional stance, which may not have significantly affected the future of American culture, they feel the US needs a new light to guide them. “It’s clear for us all to see that America has managed to dig itself into a deep hole concerning its world image, economic success and foreign policy ideas and it is uncertain whether the chosen leader can or will dig America out. Then again would Kerry and his party have had the tools, the time and the willpower for a such a mammoth task either?” said Robert.
When asked about the Iraq crisis Robert was quite emotional. “Why choose Iraq?” he wondered, “where will the crisis go?” The only answer he could foresee was “another Vietnam”.
There was a downbeat atmosphere in the offices of the Democrats Abroad in Lisbon. “All I can say is ‘Go Hillary 2008’,” Gilbert Wells replied when asked about his initial reaction to the result. He feels that Bush has created a division in the country that he can’t, or perhaps won’t mend, resulting in a fractured country. However, on a lighter note, he recalled an interview he watched on the BBC news a few weeks ago. “There was an old black man being interviewed on the street, he said he couldn’t understand why Kerry would want to pick up the pieces that the Bush government has left, leave them to sort their own mess out!”
Andrew Bowes, from the American Press Association in Lisbon, was pleased – but only with the speed of the result. He was impressed with Kerry’s decision to concede instead of entering into the long, drawn-out legal battle that could have been on the cards. Memories of the protracted aftermath of Bush’s first electoral campaign had initially come to mind, along with the ensuing confusion over the result.
However, for Andrew, “neither guy has any real solutions”. He explained that Bush doesn’t seem to want to reform his plans, commenting; “Some think he doesn’t have the know-how to do so and Kerry’s manifesto didn’t offer enough variation to induce a revolutionary new America.”
But for some, Kerry’s policies were appealing – and at least one American, a dentist practising in the Algarve area, was surprised that Kerry didn’t swing the US electorate in the end. Commenting on the need for some sort of reform in American foreign policy, he voiced the opinion that, “Bush doesn’t care about the rest of the world – that’s why I’m living here!”