|Tübingen - Ann Arbor Students Share Views|
Gymnasium student Laura Scherer shares her impressions of the U.S. presidential election 2008 as it was experienced in Germany and Tübingen.
How Germany Saw the Presidential Elections
Obama made history: not only in the United States but worldwide. People all over the world, including in Germany, watched the election and his speech. People in Ann Arbor‘s sister city in Tübingen, Germany followed the campaign with great interest, and celebrated the outcome of the election.
My name is Laura Scherer and I am a 17-year old girl from Tübingen. I spent last school year as a junior at Ann Arbor’s Huron High School. Living in the United States as a foreign exchange student during the time of the campaigns of the presidential candidates gave me a lot of insight into American politics, and I was very happy to share my knowledge with my German friends and family after coming back to Germany last summer. In return, I would like to give Americans the chance to expand their horizons and share the impressions I got in Germany about the U.S. presidential election of 2008.
After his public appearance in Berlin on July 24, 2008, it was clear that Obama won the hearts of the Germans. His speech in front of over 200,000 people left the crowd fascinated and shouting his slogan, “Yes, we can!“ Especially the younger generations welcomed the young and charismatic nominee for the Democrats. He represented a model politician, an idol, to these young people. Many of them would like to see someone like him in German politics, as was shown by the huge turnout of young adults. Despite this interest in American politics, young German adults and teenagers are not as interested in German politics. According to them, the German parliament system is too complicated; there are too many parties and people they should know the names and positions of, leaving them confused and unmotivated.
In a survey taken on the campus of Tübingen’s University, almost all interviewees said they would have voted for Obama, because he seems competent, likeable and because “he’s not Bush.” Other popular reasons were his plans for health care, his foreign and domestic policies, his vice presidential candidate, and the age of his opponent.
Apparently, President Bush’s popularity in Tübingen couldn’t be smaller, as the local newspaper described Obama’s victory with the words “The nightmare is over”.
To celebrate the elections, the German-American-Institute of Tübingen hosted an all-night-long “Sleepless in Tübingen” election party. It featured a podium discussion with several American and German experts on politics and rhetoric, who discussed the different aspects and consequences of the proposals of the candidates. Located in a small movie theatre, hundreds of excited Germans were awaiting the outcome of these historic elections. Because of the six-hour time difference and long waiting time associated with it, the masses were kept entertained and awake by various artists like a brass band, comedians and a singing Marilyn Monroe impersonator. Several movies, among others the documentation about Obama’s journey to Kenya, gave people time to refuel while they could enjoy traditional American food like hamburgers, hot dogs, and donuts. As the hours passed, most people wandered off home to get their sleep while others clung to the two big screens broadcasting the live coverage of CNN. When the result was announced at 5 AM, the few sleepy remaining cheered enthusiastically. I immediately called my host family in Ann Arbor to share this great moment with them. Everybody was proud to be part of the historical event and the speeches of both candidates evoked the applause and admiration of the tired but happy ones left.
Now that Barack Obama made history the expectations for the new President of the United States are high, and he will have to prove himself in front of the world. President Bush’s administration left a lot of problems, in America and abroad. Because he is the first African-American President, and promoted his agenda of “change” so intensively he, and his actions, will be under close scrutiny. Most Germans try to stay realistic about their hopes for the new President; there is a lot of work ahead President-Elect Obama, and it might not work out as easily as it sounded in the campaign.