Today the popular French public radio station France Culture
hosted a live broadcast from the AMEX
cafe at the American University of Paris (AUP)
, to discuss the results
of the 2010 U.S. midterm elections.
As I was one of the few students who actually made it to the first
7 a.m. segment, I had the opportunity to share my opinions as an American voter living in France.
On live radio. To millions of French people.Needless to say, this was both a terrifying and exhilarating experience.
Below is an audio clip of myself and another AUP student discussing our reactions to the elections.
To summarize for those of you who don't understand French, I basically said:
- I'm a Democrat.
- I'm from Maryland.
- I'm disappointed, but not surprised.
- I still love Obama. (But he has some work to do.)Feel free to click here for a recording of the full broadcast (my classmates and I make a brief appearance around minute 103.)
The morning segment from France Culture ("Les Matins") featured analysis and commentary from AUP
professor Steven Ekovich
and Zaki Laïdi
, a professor at the Sciences Po
Center for European Studies and founder of the French think tank Telos
The majority of the discussion focused on how the loss of Democratic control over the U.S. House of Representatives represents both "l'échec" or the
failure of President Obama's administration, and demonstrates a strong dissatisfaction by the American public regarding the state of the U.S. economy.
Two other segments were broadcast from the AMEX cafe later in the day, including a discussion of the role of women in U.S. politics
, and an analysis of the Tea Party movement
AUP Amex Cafe (www.franceculture.com)
Today was an eye-opening experience for me, and it was absolutely fascinating to get the French perspective on these historic midterm elections.
I felt that overall, the panelists had a solid understanding of our political system, and while the majority of them were more or less politically leftist, I didn't get a sense that they were being overly critical of American voters or our system of government.
Rather, they all seemed genuinely interested in the cultural implications of these elections, and how the political climate in the U.S. compares to France and the rest of Europe.
I also really appreciated the fact that a station that is so well-renowned in France (it is essentially the French equivalent of NPR
), spent so much time covering our mid-term elections. And it wasn't just French radio: every newspaper I saw open on the métro today had front page articles covering the election results -- some even had the same pretty red and blue maps
that the American media love oh-so-much.
In contrast, Americans are known for our lack of interest in international affairs. In a 2007 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
, only 36% of Americans polled could name the current president of Russia (Vladimir Putin at the time).
And even when it comes to domestic politics, the majority of Americans remain somewhat disinterested; in the same survey, only 69% of those polled could name Dick Cheney as the current Vice President (although frankly, the rest of them were probably better off staying in the dark about that one.)
Now, I understand that this disinterest in international affairs is the result of a variety of factors, including lack of emphasis placed on world geography and politics in our public school systems and by the American media.
And I completely understand that just by the nature of our country's size and position in the world, what happens on our shores generally has a greater affect on the rest of the world than the other way around.
But at the same time, I like to think that the more we can learn about other countries around the world, the better perspective we develop about our own. This is certainly what I've learned thus far over my time living abroad.
I am hopeful that all the recent developments in modern technology, which make it practically effortless to get updates on the world's breaking news, will boost our knowledge of international affairs.
In fact, here
is an amazing site that does just that -- and it's color coded!
Who knows? Maybe in the 2012 French Presidential elections, some lucky French student studying in the U.S. will get the opportunity to discuss her country's elections on national public radio in broken English!