I was listening to parts of Obama's speech in Cairo, and reading the transcript online. That man is so beautiful and intelligent! And good at what he does! I secretly hope he can fix the world a little.
The children and I have been Obama fans for a while now. Just after his election, we were going through the magazine aisle of the local supermarket when all of a sudden Jack (not even four and half by then) goes "Look, mama: it's a picture of Obama, the new President of America", to which Marie (eleven months at the time) replies with a heartfelt "Obama! Obama!" We got some funny looks. For the inauguration, we had a little party, just the three of us, with bread sticks and cherry tomatoes. On election night, I had to go to sleep because the results were going to come in way too late, but I woke up in the middle of the night and went to check the outcome.
I can't even believe it myself how much hope and passion that man stirs up in someone like me. I don't even live over there. And I'm meant to be all cynical about politics, like all Flemish people, and definitely about American politicians. My friends think I'm some kind of freak. The Flemish part of my brain is embarrassed about my gushing - but then again, I decided a while back life's too short to be cynical about everything.
We need someone to stir up our politics a little, too. We have Flemish and European elections on Sunday, and no one seems to care too much about them, except for journalists and people who want to vote for extreme right parties who promise to "kick out foreigners" (by which they mean people who look different and aren't rich). Strangely enough, all Belgian adults are forced to care a little, as elections are obligatory around here. That's right - everyone has to turn up, and you can be punished if you don't. So, while in the rest of Europe a turnout of less than 50% is expected, we will all go and vote.
Being a bit freaky and uncynical about the whole democracy deal, I went to volunteer for voting duty. They need people to check the voter lists, help with the computers and what not, and they never have enough people who want to do this. I did not get called up! I can't believe it. I don't have a criminal record or anything.
The one good outcome is that I can now take the children with me when I go to vote. On the way there, I will tell them both about the importance of the democratic process (you can never start this too early). Then I will let them watch me vote and explain what I'm doing. For Jack, this is the third time he has to go through this, poor thing.