Election year in the States is a lot of fun and excitement. Though I live in Germany and love it here, I can’t imagine giving up my US citizenship to become German mostly because of my wish to vote in the presidential elections.

OK, a lot of it is downright silly. (Thanks for the video, Frieda! See video by But when it comes down to it, these elections are among the oldest, best established democratic processes in the world.

One thing is clear: We need change. I find it very heartening that the Democrats have interesting candidates that truly reflect what’s going on in 21st century America. The two front-runners, Obama and Clinton, have a strong following, one in the long-suffering American middle-class, and one in the younger generation known as the Millennials.

Barack Obama is a great integrating figure. He’s already doing US culture a lot of good just by running in the primaries. His win in Iowa proves that heartland America is really changing. He’s getting the Millennials excited about politics, and his “Yes, we can” is a wonderful message. But he’s in for a rough ride. Being black may have cost him the New Hampshire primaries. And I’m not sure that having John Kerry on his side is helpful.

Barack TV Generation Obama

And then there is Hillary, a smart politician who has been through the mill, a tried and tested social democratic warhorse. She has flip-flopped on Iraq and pharmaceuticals, which makes you wonder whether you can trust her. Her fatal flaw is that she comes across as cold and insincere. But politics can do that to people who want to get the job done, and I don’t mean to be cynical here. Maybe that’s why many American women, her most faithful constituency, feel that she’s got her heart in the right place. Beneath that armor of hers, she’s a politician of substance who really cares about the middle-class.

It’s not always easy to like Hillary. When they were under siege during Bill’s presidency, she defended her family’s privacy, saying, and I quote, “I’m not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the President!” Her arrogance can be so off-putting. But I liked her comeback message after winning the primary elections in New Hampshire. She said „Over the past week I listened to you, and in the process, I found my own voice.” Now, that rings true. She listens, both to the polls and to the people she meets, and she takes her cues from us, the public. And that’s not the worst thing for a president.

If the two of them, Clinton and Obama, come out on top in the primaries, wouldn’t it be amazing to see them patch up their differences to run for president and vice president on one ticket? Just imagine the broad base they would represent. Maybe it’s a pipedream. Maybe they’re totally incompatible. But if they managed to merge their constituencies, in November 2008 we, too, would be able say, “We are the President.”

Learning the ropes – Bauen Sie Ihren Wortschatz auf

downright – regelrecht
when it comes down to it – letztlich
heartening – ermutigend
front-runners – die Führenden
following – Gefolgschaft
long-suffering – leidgeplagt
millennials – Generation der Jahrtausendwende
to run in the primaries – Kandidat in den Vorwahlen sein
heartland – Landesinnere
to be in for a rough ride – einen schweren Weg vor sich haben
she’s been through the mill – sie hat was durchgemacht
tried and tested – bewährt
warhorse – Schlachtross
to flip-flop – die Meinung revidieren
fatal flaw – verhängnisvoller Makel
to come across as – wirken
insincere – falsch, unaufrichtig
I don’t mean to – ich will damit nicht
faithful – treu
constituency – Wahlbasis
heart in the right place – Herz am rechten Fleck
armor – Panzer
under siege – unter Beschuss
to have someone do sth. – hier: jemandem erlauben, etw. zu tun
to paw, to paw through (coll. pej.) – befummeln, durchwühlen (abschätzig)
off-putting – unsympathisch
poll – Umfrage
take one’s cues from – sich nach jemandem richten
to patch up one’s differences – Frieden schließen
broad base – breite Basis
a pipedream – Wunschtraum