It has been hailed as the ‘most contentious presidential race in history’, ‘a freak show of egos’ and ‘the race to end all races’—and these are just three of the headlines being splashed across the world’s media. It’s election year in the United States and things are really starting to heat up. Whether you’re a Clinton or Trump supporter, or neither, this election has proved itself to be one hotly contested battle. Lucas Cavazos caught up with a few fellow Americans living in Barcelona to see what they had to say.
Ramon Menendez-Carreira. US Consulate General.
Ramon Menendez-Carreira, the US Consular Officer to Spain, has been based in Barcelona since 2014, and he is simply encouraging US citizens to get out there and vote. “The most vital thing, especially at this point in the race, is to make sure you have registered to vote so you can receive your absentee ballot. Many US citizens, Spanish-born children of US parents, or US citizens born to Spanish parents in the United States have no idea that they can register to vote by absentee ballot. The US Consulate General (Passeig de la Reina Elisenda de Montcada, 23) can receive your ballot and return it to you as long as there is sufficient postage. It’s that simple!”
Most states accept the electronic return of ballots, but Carreira-Menendez suggests that voters check first with their state offices. “There has never been a more decisive election, and it has never been so easy to vote. The Consul’s office will help you out in every way we can because we want to get the word out there.”
Annette Abstoss. Creator/Director of Abstoss World Gastronomy and Opera Samfaina.
Businesswoman and chef Annette Abstoss feels that things are not what they seem (on either party’s side!) and she has felt ashamed and rather embarrassed with all the insults and accusations being thrown across the board throughout the campaign. “If this truly is the most crucial of elections, then we have never sunk so low,” said Abstoss. “The fact is that whoever mandates the US affects the entire political global ecosystem. For that reason, this time I will be voting Democrat, although normally I would be a Republican voter.”
And if Trump were to win? “Hopefully he would be busy enough that he couldn’t cause too much trouble.”
Matthew David. Owner, MDC English Language Services.
One thing that makes US expats fall in love with Barcelona are its socialist principles and way of life. David moved here nearly 11 years ago, aged 26, after George W. Bush’s reelection. “I was done with that hypocritical way of bipartisanship and that system of fear, frankly.”
David believes that the only way to make an impact is to vote, but if your vote lies in a state where the win is overwhelmingly Republican or Democrat, then why not vote Green? The Green Party need only four percent of the vote to receive better regulations for their party at a federal level and its presumptive nominee, Jill Stein of Massachusetts, looks likely to appear on 47 of 50 states’ ballots.
“I vote in New York state, and we already know that it’s likely to go to Hillary, despite the fact that Trump is also a New Yorker,” said David. “This race has been all about mudslinging, and I’ve been supporting Sanders throughout. It was not about ‘feeling the Bern’, however, for me it’s about social liberties for all, and that’s why I have to support people like Sanders and Stein who have strong socialist values. That’s what it should be about.”
Since then, after spending some time on Long Island Sound in New York this summer, David observed that there is strong Trump support even in liberal parts of the country, which might affect his final decision and sway him to vote for Clinton.
David McClellan. CEO/Director, Alaska Seafood.
As another businessman who has been living in Catalunya for many years, David McClellan has seen plenty of political changes and upheaval, and stressed the importance of voting. “Since expats are not represented in Congress, voting is the only way to make your opinion heard in the US. I don’t see this year as more crucial than others, but we’ve seen how who is president determines whether we go to war or not, so it’s pretty important.”
David feels that, when voting, it often comes down to the lesser of two evils, and it goes without saying that many people no longer feel intrinsically linked to their party of yesteryear.
“I will probably have to vote for Hillary. The Republicans need to reinvent themselves as the conservative defenders of US-American workers and the middle class. In my opinion, a Trump presidency would be a costly diversion—it would make ‘anti-Americanism’ that much more acceptable here and abroad.”
Erin Van de Hey. Chief Proctor, Exams-Catalunya BCN.
As a leader in the city’s upper educational examinations centre, a working mum and a US voter, Erin Van de Hey is no stranger to overseas voting. She moved to Barcelona just after university and has seen all the changes since the post-millennial tension.
“I’ll be back home in Wisconsin in September, so I’ll be registering to vote there. For me, voting is important but mostly on a federal level. Some say that one’s local officials probably have more impact on our day-to-day life, but since I don’t live in the States, it’s not what really concerns or affects me. I’m concerned with how the US is viewed by the outside world, and the US President is our ambassador.”
Van de Hey expressed embarrassment regarding the election campaign this time round. “It’s a circus. I read the news daily from a variety of sources, but I try to be careful about ‘clickbait’ and research memes and silly claims that people make. On social media, I purposefully do not block or ‘unfriend’ Trump supporters because I feel it’s important to be aware of how other people think, although the majority of my friends share my liberal views. I feel that this year’s presidential race is crucial, particularly given the vast gap between the ideologies and backgrounds of the two candidates…either way, history will be made.”
And just how important is the US President in reference to the world stage? “On a macroeconomic level, it’s very important because weakened confidence in the US may have a knock-on effect on the markets,” she said. “Trump being elected will also subject me to four years of Catalans and other Europeans asking me what were Americans thinking!”
“I will vote for Hillary Clinton. She is qualified, smart and the US is ready for a female President. Bernie Sanders supporters who are threatening to ‘opt out’ of the election are handing votes directly to the Trump campaign, and that really irritates me. Even if you aren’t a big supporter of the two-party system, for this particular election the Democrats need to band together and avoid the kind of meltdown the Republicans are having.”
Erin Van de Hey
Erin Van de Hey
Eric Must. International Division Director, Europastry S.A.
Must has been living in Catalunya for over two decades and has a wife and children and his life is firmly established here. His home state of Louisiana offers an easy-to-use online voting service. “Expat or not, the same moral and civic obligation to take part in the system applies.”
He believes more in the individual value of a candidate over party loyalty. This year, his main intent was to gain an understanding of each candidate’s position, but has found it difficult. “Unfortunately, there is very little substance on their actual positions and action plans,” he said regretfully.
“This year is especially important for me as my kids are getting older, and I’m starting to explain more and more to them about the US and its role in world politics. Our president serves as a symbol to the world and represents our beliefs and our system, in general. A Trump presidency would be provocative and offensive to many of our allies and would flame extremism, both domestic and international. Is this truly the best we can offer?” Surely not.
HOW TO REGISTER
The 2016 US Presidential elections will be held on Tuesday, November, 8th.
- For voter registration visit: Vote From Abroad, which offers state by state information and voter registration services.
- Democrats Abroad Barcelona will be organising voter registration and other events in the lead up to the elections.
ON THE NIGHT
- Democrats Abroad in Barcelona will hold a US Election Watch night, from 8.30pm until 1.30am on November 8th. Location TBC.
- In the lead up to the elections, the presidential debates will be shown at the ESERP Business School (Girona 24).
DID YOU KNOW?
- There are 3,672 US citizens registered as living in Barcelona
- The number of citizens registered as living in Barcelona has more than tripled in the last 15 years
- 20-34 is the most numerous age group of North Americans
- 74.8% of North Americans in 2015 had university degrees or higher–more than any other foreign group surveyed
Source: Ajuntament de Barcelona.