Thursday, October 30, 2008

Danish volunteers are a hit in North Beach

This is Miami Beach, so we're used to seeing visitors here. But most times they don't pitch in and work like Superman/woman. This is the power of Barack Obama! Volunteers are flowing in from all over to add to our local energy, and the group above is from Denmark (except for the guy in the back, Mark Wilson, who's flown in from California for the final leg of the campaign; he's driving the Danes).

l-r: Amalie, Jeppe, Sara, Klaus, Christina (Mark in the back).

They had just piled into the North Beach for Obama HQ seeking a mission Thursday afternoon, and your blogger helped outfit them with two fat clipboards of canvassing lists. That was the umpteenth mission of their visit to Florida, and three hours later they were back with thorough results -- most being university students with political science or law on their curricula.

Also on Thursday I heard that a group from the Netherlands was in town helping canvass, also one from Norway. Don't forget Noelia Zanon, of Spain, who belted out song after song at our VoteFest '08 all-day music event on Sunday. There's a young man from Australia working on Annette Taddeo's campaign to unseat Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congressional District 18.

And there's Andrea Liberati of Italy, who showed up months ago joining the Miami Beach Democratic Club and now is working practically full-time as a volunteer for Barack Obama. Back in August I was flying to Denver to blog the convention, and there sitting across the aisle was Andrea! He's writing a book on what it's like to explore the mysteries of Florida presidential campaigning and will be jetting home with his copious notes soon after Nov. 4.

All these people have been captivated by our political situation and our Democratic candidate. They look at us from abroad and are unencumbered by our inhibitions. They dislike George W. Bush and his policies intensely. Sort of like us. But none of their neighbors, relatives or friends voted for Bush, so they have no shyness when it comes to declaring their backing for Barack Obama.

And for those fools on the right-wing radio who say Europe is rife with anti-Americanism, have a chat with Maria Jensen, 20, studying law at the University of Copenhagen.

Why are you doing this?

"I like America. To come here and make a change and to help Obama win -- that was the motivation for me."

How has it been here in the Miami area?

"It's a big city, the people are very nice, it's a very diverse state. I like Florida."

Emil Dyred, leader of the group of 25 Danish young people, said their trip had been entirely self-arranged, though as members of the Danish Social Liberal Party (Det Radikale Venstre), they were in a sister organization of our Young Democrats. The party is centrist in Denmark's political landscape and not currently in the government. Dyred is studying political science and history at the University of Copenhagen.

Was there any negative reaction to foreigners' canvassing in Miami?

"No one mentioned that we are foreigners. People have been positive and welcoming."

Why did you come to Florida?

"Florida is a battleground state. We wanted to go somewhere we could make a difference. Plus it's quite warm here now compared to Denmark."

The North Beach squad of Danes canvassed relentlessly until falling back into the HQ about 6:30 p.m., famished and tired. What luck for them. We had postponed the usual Wednesday happy hour until Thursday, so we all trooped one block west to Cafe Prima Pasta and had a great time and tasty food along with inspirational speeches from our neighborhood Obama captain, Daniel E. Jonas, and Ann Horwich, jack'lin of all volunteer trades.

After the election the Danes will spend a few days each in Washington and New York before flying home.


Dale said...

That is amazingly inspiring! I know many Europeans and they seem to be more interested in American Politics more than Americans. I have heard over a many tables in Germany and Italy how the "leader of free world" should be decided by the for thought; not against our sovereignty but about the importance of the elections in this Country and how we should feel honored to be able to vote for the American President and should not take that responsibility lightly.

CB said...

I met another lad from Italy working the polls for Obama in Little Haiti.

Larry Thorson said...

It's perceptive to point out that the US president is leader of the free world. Too bad the candidates have to campaign on dreary local issues most of the time. I worked overseas for 20 years and know the world's yearning for us to get our act together and lead well. Republicans seem to call this anti-Americanism. They need to get passports and get acquainted with the rest of the human race.