Archive | October, 2012

The Grass is Always Greener

17 Oct

With the American election looming in the not-so-distant future, we are constantly bombarded with political news. Living in a key swing state, I thought that to be the reason. Never have I been so eager to leave the country pre-election to escape the phone harassment, dodging every unknown caller, and the constant “I approve this message” that echos through my head. Then I moved to Spain. Surely in Spain there wouldn’t be political commercials between every show, but as I don’t have a television, I can’t really confirm that to be 100% true. Not to worry, even without the television the election has followed me.

The election has followed me every time I log on to the internet – whether the publication I’m reading be British, Spanish or American.

The election has followed me every time that a teacher, a friend or a passerby asks me about the polls. Many of which couldn’t point out my state on a map are eager to learn I’m from Ohio and tell me what an important swing state it is. I dare you to name the president and ruling political parties in Spain. Or Britain. Or any other country in Europe or the world. How is it that they all know so much about our elections while we know so little about theirs? I’m impressed about their political knowledge and the impact our elections have on people all over the world, not just within our boarders.

The election has followed me every time I meet someone that is unemployed – a number that has reached 25 percent of the population in Spain and soars far higher for those in their twenties. It has gotten so bad that many people my age are leaving their beloved country and searching for jobs wherever they can. They are fleeing to other countries and paying me for English classes to improve their resume, because they find themselves with a master’s degree and still unable to find work.

The election has followed me every time I hear about the austerity measures being talked about throughout Europe. I have watched as teachers, who are public employees, continually take the brunt of a flawed political system. Payments are frozen for government employees at the same time as teachers’ hours have been increased – some up to 5 hours more per week. I have watched as teachers who have been guaranteed a job for life are now told that they must move and change due to the budget cuts. I have seen my own teaching program drastically cut and in some places hocked all together. And those lucky enough to keep their job have seen class sizes increase well beyond the previous cap of 30 students per high school class.

In Spain they refer to this time as “La Crisis”. A name I thought was slightly dramatic at first. But after more reflection, I don’t find it all that inappropriate. Spain is in a crisis right now, but so are we and so is the rest of the world.

I’ve been asked frequently this year to reflect on if I’m better off than I was 4 years ago, but in all honesty, is anyone? I know that Spain isn’t better off than it was 4 years ago. Nor are most places in the world. But only after I removed myself from the U.S. could I see that 8 percent unemployment (while not ok) seems a lot less when you compare it to 25 percent here in Spain. And only now can I see that constant government budget cuts are not what we need to improve our situation in the U.S.

So as I sit here thinking about my absentee ballot vote, there are many things factoring into my decision. As much as I would like to say my vote isn’t about social issues, as a woman I fear to think how my rights could be affected if a certain party gained control. But more than the social issues, my vote is for who I think can continue to improve our country. For the president who has shown his leadership during the time of a crisis and who can continue to lead us in the right economic direction. For the president who has allowed me to still have my parents health coverage at the age of 24 so I’m not afraid to see a doctor when I come back home. For the president who still inspires me every time he picks up the microphone. For all my foreign friends who don’t get a chance to vote for the American president, for our international reputation and for the international effect of our election.

There are so many things wavering through my mind in the count down to election, but there is one thing that is not. I can honestly tell you there is no doubt in mind as to who my vote will be for, but then again, I don’t think there ever was.