Thursday, November 6, 2008


Nearly everyone who communicates with me on a regular basis has asked me about the Macedonian reaction to the American election. I have been begging off answering this for two related reasons. Firstly, despite being an avid politics-watcher, I didn't support either major candidate this year and am generally a cranky, cynical old man when it comes to national politics. I can hold a reasonable conversation, but more often I deliver a crusty, sarcastic, and sometimes incoherent rant of epic proportions, and I've been trying to avoid that. Secondly, I am still very American-centric in my observations. I've only been here a month, my language skills are lacking, and conversations with most Macedonians don't stray too far outside of archaeology, Albanians, and "we have beautiful women, yes?". This is a pretty big failure on my part, I think. It's incredibly interesting to be in another country during our national election, and I haven't been nearly as curious as I should. As long as there aren't any riots in the streets, I stay tuned to my CNN portal-to-America.

That being said, other Americans here have done a much better job at explaining the rather curious Macedonian position. I would suggest that you read Justin and Eric to understand the basic issues here. And elsewhere in the region, Chelsi has had some interesting experiences.

In summary, however, the Macedonians were supportive of John McCain for two reasons:

1. The Bush years, as bad as they may have been for everyone else, have actually been pretty good for Macedonia and for the Balkans. The Albanians love Bush for NATO efforts in Kosovo, while the Macedonians appreciate that he has recognized them under their constitutional name, The Republic of Macedonia. The US has also poured quite a bit of aid into the country.

2. Barack Obama has expressed support for the Greek position in the hilarious-if-it-wasn't-hurting-Macedonia Name Dispute.

Regarding #2, however, the Macedonians are fairly realistic. As Justin and Eric both noted, most of Obama's support for the Greek position probably arises from the large Greek population in Chicago, and their position as a traditional Democratic constituency. It's not as if Obama ran on a platform of health care, Iraq, and FYROM, and in terms of importance this is a minor issue at best. The Macedonians understand this. And that, as far as I can tell, is that.


In lieu of a cranky rant on my part, I'll just recommend Will Wilkinson. I won't say that am as content as he sounds with the results (not that I would be any happier with McCain), but the second half strikes of his post sounds about right to me.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I like how you have all these facts in your summary of what Macedonians think of the American elections.

I plan to simply poll my adult English class that I teach and use the response as a country wide analysis of Japan's position on American politics.

It just seems easier.