Correspondents’ Corner is a place for The Pendulum’s team of international reporters to reflect on their time abroad and share stories about the new cultures they are experiencing.
SEVILLE, SPAIN— On printed jean shorts, biker boots and simple shirts, the flag of the U.S.A. has transformed from a waving symbol of American patriotism to an international fashion trend. I have seen countless Spanish youth proudly donning the star spangled banner as a stylish statement piece. The interest or obsession with all things American, ranging from our flag to Dunkin’ Donuts and Halloween, has not gone unnoticed. But does this zealous curiosity of the surface of American culture translate into an educated awareness of American politics?
Notepad in hand, I embarked onto the busy streets of the historic old town in Seville with a mission in mind: do Spaniards strongly favor one American presidential candidate over the other?
I approached each street walker, introduced myself and proceeded to point to a sheet of paper on which I had written “Barack Obama” and “Mitt Romney,” the two names separated by a line of thick black ink. I collected 25 votes. Every single Spaniard, ranging from preteen bicycle-wielding boys to tobacco-spitting Taxi drivers pointed at current President Obama’s name rather than presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
When passing the entrance gates of the University of Seville, I approached three European students from England, two of whom agreed they supported President Obama. The third girl was unaware a presidential election was imminent in the United States. Not one finger was pointed at Mitt Romney’s name during the time I strolled the cobblestone streets.
It is apparent that the machinations of the American government hold significant weight in the Spanish media. During the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney’s comment regarding the struggling Spanish economy received vicious backlash in the local newspapers, as Spanish journalists defended their country from Romney’s remark.
When I had the opportunity to instruct a psychology class at the University of Seville, I talked about cultural differences between America and Spain. During my presentation, Spanish students asked me questions about our health care system and the controversial issue of gun control legislation in the United States. To me, it was clear that this group of Spanish students held an interest in American social policy and domestic issues.
Americans are eagerly anticipating the results of the presidential elections. I think it is safe to say Spaniards are too.