Erik Kirschbaum has an article for Reuters which makes a few interesting observations about the large number of US citizens living in Europe. More broadly, his article addresses the importance of demographics. According to the piece there are roughly a quarter million US ex-pats in Germany alone and they could have an impact on the upcoming US presidential election, which the media is presenting as a close race. More interesting than the election itself are the comments in the article about what sort of ex-pats live in Europe, where they are from and what their political inclinations are. Kirschbaum writes:
The estimated 250,000 Americans in Germany – the fourth largest U.S. expatriate community in the world – traditionally leant toward Republican candidates, partly due to a large cohort of generally more conservative soldiers stationed there, and the coordinated efforts of the military to get absentee ballots to the 50,000 troops.
But that shifted in recent elections as disenchantment with Bush in Germany and across Europe grew – though political scientist James Walston of the American University in Rome believes expats in the military will still mostly vote Romney.
“The majority of soldiers will tend to be Republican voters because of the demographics,” Walston said. “They tend to come from the Southern and Central states where the Republicans win.”
But civilian expats appear to have been more influenced by the overwhelmingly pro-Obama stance of their European hosts. Many Americans in Europe, for instance, are baffled that Republicans oppose national health care, which most Europeans take for granted.
An opinion poll by the Emnid polling institute found 87 percent of German nationals would vote for Obama and only 5 percent for Romney if they had the chance to cast ballots. Those numbers are similar to polls of Germans taken four years ago.
In France, a CSA poll found 67 percent would prefer Obama versus 5 percent for Romney. In 2008 the same poll found 83 percent for Obama and 10 percent for Republican John McCain.
“Based on what I’m hearing, I’d say most expats are going to vote for Obama, probably about 90 percent,” said Alan Benson, a leader of American Voices Abroad, which helps people register.
Notice that the article is very clear about who fills the ranks of the US military, projecting Washington, DC’s power around the globe – Southerners and those from the so-called ‘heartland’ area of the United States, inland areas away from the coasts. Notice too how differently these people view the world than do others discussed in the article.
The article makes the point that demographics matter. Clearly, they do. However, this is in contradiction to what those concerned about the deluge of Third World immigrants are told by politicians, elites and immigration supports. Typically, we are told that where someone comes from is unimportant. What is important, it is claimed, is that they are coming here, that they will assimilate into our culture and become like us. The US border, in this way of thinking, is like a magic line. Once someone steps across it they are miraculously transformed into an ‘American,’ which is often presented as some uniform body of people. As one can see, this entire line of rhetoric defies common sense and reasoning. As Kirschbaum demonstrates in his article, demographics are important.