DAT had a very, very successful event on 26 July at the Roadhouse Barbecue, where we talked about the party platform (and sent ideas to the Obama campaign) -- and The Nation sent a reporter who produced the following story:
The Nation (
Obama excitement extends to the beer and barbecues of Bangkok
By Anthony Audi
While Barack Obama spent last week meeting with foreign dignitaries in the Middle East and Europe, Democrats in
With unprecedented sums of money at his disposal, the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party is running a worldwide campaign, working vigorously to court not only Americans at home but also citizens overseas. As the first candidate to open offices in all 50 states, Obama is extending his "leave no constituency behind" approach to the greater world, hiring 10 full-time staffers to work outside of the
The effectiveness of this strategy remains unclear in a state like
Austin, a Bangkok-based American who has designed trendy T-shirts with the slogan "
If this year's election results are as tightly contested as in 2000 and 2004, votes cast abroad could make a crucial difference in the final result. In 2000, some credited the overseas vote with tipping
The overseas vote has also been a source of controversy, with as many as half of
Chris Kimble, the Thailand Chair for Republicans Abroad, recognises that Democrats Abroad have done a great deal to raise their visibility. "In
With only 20 per cent of Americans believing their country is "on the right track", the mood seems ripe for a Democratic takeover this November, and the desire for different leadership is particularly noticeable among Americans overseas. "We've been over here six years and I have travelled abroad a lot," said Henry, an American currently based in Thailand, "and in the last few years, because of Bush, the minute people realised I'm American, I've got a big public-relations job to do".
Phil Robertson went even further, describing what he sees as "a real popular revulsion towards a president who has denigrated and destroyed goodwill in the international community".
During the Democratic debate at the Roadhouse BBQ this past Saturday, the lively crowd of expatriates disagreed on several issues, whether timetables for
If Bush hating seems to have reached an all-time high for Americans overseas, so has Obama loving. Most Democrats in
Moreover, aspects of Obama's heritage that have drawn scepticism from certain Americans back home - Obama lived in Indonesia for six years, is the son of a Muslim from Kenya and his middle name is Hussein - are seen as assets by Americans abroad. As a middle-aged Democrat named Betsy opined, "he's going to be a good American ambassador, because he looks more international. He looks more like the rest of the world."
Though it is not as organised and seemingly less optimistic than its Democratic counterpart, Republicans Abroad remains a potentially significant force for Obama's opponent John McCain. Chris Kimble, who described the Republican constituency overseas as "guys in the military and guys in business", sees these professions are part of the reason for Republicans Abroad's low profile. "Guys in business are busy," he explained, "so we don't do a good job getting organised". For voters like Kimble, the important election issues are financial, and in that respect, they will almost all vote for McCain. "The big concern among Republicans right now is the tax policies, and McCain is right on those issues," Kimble said.
The dynamic in
What does this all mean for the upcoming election? "I think there is a lot of time between now and November," said Kimble, "but it's going to be a tough year for Republicans".