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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Midterm elections

No, you haven't stumbled into a political blog by mistake.

I've been struck this week by how closely the French have been following the recent midterm elections. It started with my landlords and neighbors René and Sophie who invited me to dinner the other night to watch the election results on TV. French TV channels featured several prime-time programs tracking the U.S. political races. To be fair, René and Sophie spend several months a year in California, and although they aren't U.S. citizens and can't vote, they follow American politics very closely.

Later, on Friday afternoon, I joined a French/English conversation group which meets regularly nearby. There were around 50 people, in small circles of 6-8 people, with about 80% French and 20% English/American. The format includes 45 minutes of English and 45 minutes of French conversation. I joined a group which included a nucleus of French regulars who have been participating in the conversation groups for over 7 years. Again, I was surprised at the level of interest in the U.S. elections and our English conversation included an in-depth analysis of the results along with many comparisons of the Obama administration vs. the Bush administration. Needless to say, Obama is much better regarded here than his predecessor, and the French will be watching and hoping that Obama will be successful in implementing his agenda despite the recent setback.

Just another reminder of why I like living here. The people are engaged, interesting, and interested in the wider world.

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