Democrats Abroad

Of course living in a foreign country broadens the mind. That’s why the organisation known as ‘Democrats Abroad’ (http://www.democratsabroad.org/) is making such huge efforts to register the American expatriate vote for the forthcoming presidential election. Its assumption is that US citizens living in Europe, say, are much less likely to vote for Trump than stay-at-home Americans. That must be right. For a start they must be affected by the almost universal derision that Trump receives in nearly all branches of the European media, where he is seen as not only wrong but also a clown. They’ll have spent much of their time being quizzed on him, almost incredulously, by their European friends. That will have been embarrassing for them. (I experience the same kind of discomfiture in Sweden, being quizzed about Farage.) Then, they will have come across ways of doing things – national health arrangements, for example – differently from how they do them in America, and found that they actually work. Thirdly, they’re probably less stupid, and almost certainly more open-minded, than most of Trump’s constituency. Travel can have this effect. And together they can muster many millions of votes. They could make the difference.

One thing that living abroad has done for me – apart from broadening my mind, I hope – is to give me another string to my professional bow. I used to be asked to review books on British imperialism and the secret services, my two main areas of historical expertise. Now I get books about Scandinavia, too. (See for example https://bernardjporter.com/2014/01/28/the-almost-nearly-perfect-people/.) I’ve just received Robert Ferguson, Scandinavians: In Search of the Soul of the North, from the Literary Review. That will keep me pretty busy for at least a week, probably at the expense of my blogging duties. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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