For local Democrats, it’s a night to drink champagne

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
U.S. Embassy employee shows her admiration for
Barack Obama.

A group of about 50 American expats spent their election night watching and waiting, glued to the television as each state’s results trickled in Tuesday. This group of Democrats anxiously but expectantly waited as President Barack Obama gained more and more Electoral College votes, scarcely taking their eyes away from CNN’s live coverage of the results.

Then, a few minutes past 10 p.m. the small crowd exploded with applause and cheers.

Wolf Blitzer had just announced that Obama had won the state of Ohio, pushing well above the necessary 270 Electoral College votes he needed.

“Yahoo,” shouted Democrats Abroad chair, Nelleke Bruyn. ”I’m so glad. I’ve been so worried.”

Glasses of champagne quickly were passed around while people toasted to Obama’s victory and chanted “four more years.”

A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Local Democrats toast Obama’s victory.

This group watching the results of the election was organized by Democrats Abroad. Some were strong life-long democrats, some switched from the other side at some point in their lives and others just thought that the Democratic Party is simply a moderately better choice than the Republicans.

Although fierce support for President Obama was common among this crowd, each person had a different story on how they got to Costa Rica and how that has shaped their image of U. S. politics.

“I used to pass out peanuts all over Grand Rapids for Jimmy Carter,” said Harold Moore of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Moore, 62, used to spend their winters in Costa Rica with his wife Robin Moore until they decided to stay permanently in the past couple years. They reside now in Granadilla.

Moore has a blue-collar background. He worked for General Motors in Michigan and Kentucky and said he has been a very loyal Democrat for all of his life. He said one of the most important issues is the gridlock that has developed in Congress and its effect on the country as a whole, blaming both the Democrats and the Republicans.

For Sandra Krause, the key issue was how well the next president can get along with other nations.

“The most important thing for us is that the world respects Obama,” she said. “Romney has not proven himself respect-worthy to other countries.”

Krause just moved to Escazú last year and plans to eventually move back to the United States. Although she is originally from Chicago, Illinois, she votes in her more recent home of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Ms. Bruyn said that social programs are the most important issue for her in any election. She said that it stems from her Dutch parents instilling that cultural value that government should provide these programs to these citizens even though taxes are higher.

Former New York resident Suzy Nagel, 68, agreed with this sentiment. She has been living in Costa Rica for five years, and currently lives in Barrio Amón.

Ms. Nagel said that she was originally a Republican, but the decrease in these social welfare programs in the 1980s led her to switch to voting more with the Democrats. “I just changed because I think we have to help people more,” she said.

Others said that the Democratic Party was simply just the better choice of two undesirable options.

“I have criticisms of both of the major parties, but the Democrats are the less of two evils,” said Jim Thompson, a 74-year-old resident of Santo Domingo.
Thompson said he was born in West Virginia, raised in Ohio, and spent most of his life in San Francisco. He has lived in Costa Rica for six years.

Despite some blame towards the party, the majority of the group was very loyal to the Democratic Party.

Many also said that the Democratic Party is more open and accepting to outsiders. This was the experience of Maria Holliday and her husband, Bob. Ms. Holliday is from Costa Rica while her husband is from Chicago.

“The Democrats are a much larger tent,” said Holliday, who worked alongside Michelle Obama at the University of Chicago for a time. “They encompass a lot more people.”

By press time, Obama had earned 303 votes from the Electoral College to Romney’s 206. Obama had also won the popular vote by about 600,000 votes. The winner in Florida had not yet been called.

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