Tuesday, November 6, 2012

France in Real Time: the 2012 American Election and Some Subdued Reflections

The time is currently 3:51 a.m., meaning that it is 9:51 p.m. back home in Miami.

Tonight, or rather, very early morning, I sit in my room and watch the live coverage that Le Monde is holding for this special occasion of watching a foreign nation elect their head of state. They have called it La Nuit Américaine, the American night.

As far as the candidates go, and the news coverage that goes with it, there is no question that the French favor the democratic candidate, President Barack Obama. His last name is always pronounced with a stress on the last syllable, his first name cut with the uvular purr that I spent years trying to master: Bah-RACK O-ba-MA. They keep pronouncing his name with excitement.

Or the joyful tone could be from insanity-induced fatigue. It's a toss-up at this point.

Based on the conversations I've had with my work colleagues, the opposing candidate is viewed as a loon, a laughingstock and a dangerous man. These co-workers of mine are curious to see if President Obama will maintain his post as leader of a nation that is a close ally. The newscasters also keep talking about les grands electeurs as if they were a broken record.

Politics aside, I have to say how...floored I am by the impression that, truly, all eyes are on my country. Even while talking about my adopted home state of Florida, the newscasters reported, with feverish awe, the ebb and flow of seeing the hue splayed on the map wash from a rusty salmon to a calming blue. These French analysts even discussed how Mitt Romney (Meet Rom-NAY) tried to "seduce" the Hispanic community in South Florida. Oh, yes. The word used was séduire, seduce!

Sometimes I am seduced by the charming effect the English language has whenever its directly translated from French. That's quelled whenever I grade my students' papers...

never imagined that I would spend my second presidential election from abroad. Here, in Sablé-sur-Sarthe's poignant calm and ink-black countryside skies, nearly 9,000 km/5,000 miles away from all that is dear and familiar to me in Miami, I am reminded of who I am and from where I come.  It's glaringly certain this moment: Je suis une Américaine et je viens des États-Unis. 

This is my flag. It hangs in my room. When I look at it, I can see the bald eagles soar, fireworks explode in a scintillating wave, and barbecues fire up with real burgers and hotdogs. 

And my country has every four years a very important day to shoulder, not only for the people living within its cherished borders, but also for those who watch intently, tensely, to discover the news that will be revealed within less than one hour. May the grands electeurs choose the right candidate as chosen by the people/the popular vote.

The time is 10:42. Somebody is singing the National Anthem, and the French newscasters have commented on how joyous the ambiance is with the Obama camp. Romney's camp is "un petit plus calme."

And now they are talking about voting machines that have been potentially rigged???

4h58: I think I'm going to keep eating my alcoholic chocolates.They're yummy, especially the Calvados and Kirsch ones.

Post edited to include a photo of said chocolates

The Pastis ones aren't too bad. The Cognac are a bit hard to swallow. And I'm saving the Champagne chocolates for the end of the night/beginning of the morning!

5h: They are re-playing a clip of the lady who sang the National Anthem.

Cinq heures du matin, people!!!

5h02: Florida is pretty close for either party...

5h03: Yep. They are repeating the fact that Miami has a lot of Latinos.

5h04: People are cheering! What the heck is going on with la foule qui hurle?

5h05: Dang. They are treating this like the World Cup.

5h06: Wait. Is the pronunciation Meet Rom-NAY or Meet Rom-NIE? Oh, French accents...

5h07: "Le suspense dura jusqu'au bout!" @_@

5h10: I wonder if it's too late to start an alcoholic chocolate game. Everytime the French newscasters mention La Floride ou l'Iowa, I'll eat a chocolate.

5h11: People are cheering again! And La Floride was mentioned twice. Ugggghhhh...Cognac chocolate it is!

5h13: Non, connards, stop talking about LA FLORIDE!!! I'm running out of chocolates!!!

5h14: More cheering!

5h15: The French newscasters are stunned at how much the Americans are cheering before the results are in.

5h15-16: Oh, that poor reporter who is reporting live looks very peeved off at all the cheering.

5h17: 274 grands electeurs pour Bah-RACK O-ba-MA. Ça y est. C'est fini. And the crowd goes wild en direct. 

5h40: I just realized that the French pronounce Barack as the word "baraque," which means "shack" or "dump."

Barb the French Bean


  1. lol! Best election night report ever! ;o)

    I can't believe you stayed up all night! I was satisfied with getting up a bit earlier than usual and turning the news on.

    Did you vote by mail? I never got a ballot!!! >:( And I vote in Florida too (as does the rest of my family). I've gotten ballots in the mail for the past 8 years for really random things for Broward County, but they didn't send me the Presidential ballots?! Connards!!! Or Cabrones!!! Both. :p

    Anyhow, just glad it's over! I still don't know what colour Florida turned out to be. When I check this morning it was the only state missing, but all was already decided for Obama...

    1. Wow. Did you ever receive the ballots yet? I think that you can still have them postmarked by October 16th this year!

      Oh, and I believe that votes are *still* being counted in Florida. o_O

    2. Nope, never got them! Grrrr.... But at least I don't feel as bad about it now that Florida has FINALLY finished counting!

      Someone needs to send those election officials back to kindergarten to learn how to count... :p

    3. Well, they ARE in Florida, so it's only normal for them to screw up on the counting process.

      (Ever since the 2000 election fiasco in West Palm Beach, Florida developed the stereotype of not knowing how to count properly. :P)

  2. Loved your perspective from France! I had wine but no alcoholic chocolates. I will try to remember that 4 years from now!!

  3. It's strange in Amsterdam today (in a good way). It's like everyone is breathing a huge sigh of relief. This morning people were walking through the train, spotting people they knew and wishing them congratulations while holding up a copy of the news paper with Obama on the front.

    1. Dang. Makes me wish that I were in Amsterdam that day. :D

  4. C'est vrai mon ami, c'est vrai!

  5. I think you were up far too late, but I can understand why. There was a whole lot of attention on America last night, and I'm glad the result that came through was the one I wanted. Obama is no angel sure, but Mitt is certainly the Devil.

    1. Yeah, I was up very, very late that evening (or very early morning). I only hope that President Obama will use these next four years wisely.

  6. This was highly amusing. :)

    It really is amazing that the whole world watches our elections... but Americans just remain ignorant of such things in other countries.


Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb