The election has been everywhere over the past few weeks. Every day I wake up to dozens of Facebook statuses discussing the newest scandal and a online news pages full of polling data. Everyone seems exhausted of the election, and I can't blame them: the 24 hour news cycle has worn everyone down.
Except for the Spanish, it seems. My host family loves to talk politics. Whether it be the Spanish economy or parties or the American system, we discuss politics nearly every day. Yesterday I had to try to explain the concept of "swing states" to my little sister, while my host father and I discussed Ohio (conversation made more difficult due to it all being in Spanish). There are two things in particular that strike me about the Spanish in regards to politics: they are well informed, and they are blunt. I am constantly amazed by how much my family knows about the American political system. They are informed on the candidates, and have opinions on the issues and how the election relates to their country. Before coming to Spain, I knew virtually nothing about the Spanish political system, and their knowledge is truly astounding in comparison.
However, it isn't just Spain. I find that I am often asked my political opinion when traveling, or simply when it is found out that I am American - I've also discussed politics with people from Portugal, France, Brazil, Germany, Morocco, Libia, Saudi Arabia, and other regions of the world. However, no matter where I go, or who I talk to, people are informed, curious, open and happy to talk about politics. I suppose this is why I'm not yet tired of the election - instead of being worn down by the constant news cycle, I am uplifted by people who are excited to discuss not only my culture and politics, but theirs as well. There is no animosity that comes with disagreement; simply a recognition that the world is a large and diverse place.
The people here also tend to be very blunt, particularly in regards to politics. However, this does not cause disagreements. Instead, it seems to open a room up to discussion. They are happy to listen to your opinion, but you need to be able to back it up. You support Obama? You support Romney? Great. Why?
All in all, Madrid has so far been my favorite place to watch an election from. As sad as I am that I did not get to vote in person for my first presidental election, it has been wonderful to be able to view the election from the outside, and to see the different prespectives and perceptions of the rest of the world.
As the presidental election comes to a close this evening, I beg you: be a little Spanish. Whether your favorite candidate wins or loses, please listen to everyone's opinion, leave discussions open and friendly, and remember that the world is a large and wonderfully diverse place. Buena suerte, America. The world is watching you tonight.