Setting the stage for Dems Abroad to vote
At the London Democrats Abroad caucus on Super Fat Tuesday, over 100 members of the press were there, along with over 1500 voters. Here's a few comments that were sent to me afterward:
“You Americans really know how to put on an election.”
“We never have this kind of enthusiasm for our candidates. It makes our elections look so boring.”
“It is great to be here -- an event I’ll remember for a long time.”
“A really great evening.”
They were also impressed by the number of children we'd brought along, to participate in and observe our election process. (One of the red-shirted volunteers standing next to me as I directed voters off the stage was about 10 years old.)
I also heard another interesting comment. At one point I walked outside, to photograph the lines outside, and there were, as we'd been told to expect, a contingent of 6 or 7 British police officers, dressed in reflective jackets. I said to one policewoman, "Thanks for being here," and she replied, "It's our war too."
Then, on the way home at midnight, a man sat across from me on the train. He commented, "I like your choice." I realized he was remarking on my Obama button. We began a conversation that lasted throughout the journey (turned out he was getting off at my stop). Not so unusually, he followed American politics closely, and knew more about our political system than most Americans. (For example, he even knew that Al Gore lost his home state in 2000.) He seemed to have given up hope on us Americans, but has been encouraged by Obama's campaign. He'd read his last book, The Audacity of Hope (which I haven't yet finished) and we both agreed Obama was a gifted writer. He'd also seen the movie Sicko, and as a doctor, he was appalled by the American health system. (We also spent some time discussing neurology, a special interest of mine.)
I've been particularly proud of my country these last few weeks, as it goes about choosing presidential nominees. And, with the news today that Obama has raised over $6 million online since Tuesday, from small donors like me, I'm even more proud. Here, political parties are funded by huge donations from millionaires—there are effectively no limits, and as we saw in the cash-for-honours scandal, there is a payback expected for those political donations.
I love that what we started in the Dean campaign—Joe Trippi's idea that, together, 2 million people could fund a campaign based on $100 contributions—is now coming true.
To paraphrase a slogan we often scrawled on campaign signs: I am Barack Obama's special interest.
More photos below of Tuesday's London voting.