More ‘like a soap opera’
Democrats Abroad, the official branch of the U.S. Democratic Party for American citizens living outside the United States, will be holding the event as part of the Bridges for Obama project. Chapters of Democrats Abroad in countries around the world have been holding rallies on or near bridges — a metaphor for their candidate being “the bridge to a new future.” At the Windsor rally, pictures will be taken with the Ambassador Bridge in sight.
“He’s dynamic. The things he says excite me,” said Windsor resident Shelley Sharpe of her preferred candidate. “It takes someone with vision to lead, and that’s what I see in Obama. It’s not the same old story with him, and I really think he can make a difference.”
Although Sharpe, who’s a member of Democrats Abroad, stressed she isn’t trying to take any attention away from the upcoming Canadian federal election, she acknowledged that it seems many Canadians are more interested in the U.S. presidential contest than the Canadian prime ministerial one.
“It’s much more like a soap opera, I think,” said Sharpe about American politics.
Sharpe pointed to the remarkable stories in the U.S. election, including Hillary Clinton’s failed bid to become the first female president, Barack Obama as the first black man to be nominated a presidential candidate, and Sarah Palin as only the second woman to be nominated a vice-presidential candidate.
“It’s a historic election, and I think that has (captured) people’s interest a little bit more than it would if it were just — if you’ll pardon the expression — a couple of old white guys like it usually is.”
Born in the state of Georgia, Sharpe became a permanent resident of Canada in 2001. According to Sharpe, there are millions of people who hold U.S. citizenship but don’t live on American soil, and they all have a right to vote in U.S. elections by absentee ballot.
“If you are going to be 18 by election day, then you do have the right to vote. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived abroad, it doesn’t matter that you’re out of the country.”
Sharpe said the Windsor chapter of Democrats Abroad has about 60 members. But she also invites any Canadian citizens who support Obama to attend the 10 a.m. rally on Saturday in the Odette Sculpture Park at the foot of Bridge Avenue.
“I think for Windsor residents, it’s even more important than someone living farther away, because our economy is so closely tied to Michigan specifically and the United States in general,” she said.
“I think that a lot of the decisions that are made by the president and by Congress have a very strong impact on Canada.”
Since Sharpe isn’t recognized as a Canadian citizen yet, she can’t vote in the Oct. 14 federal election. But she said she hopes the rally raises awareness of elections on both sides of the border.
“It’s just one more thing to get people to think about what they need to do to vote, regardless of which election they’re going to be voting in.”
Sharpe said she has sent e-mail notices about the rally to local MP candidates, and she welcomes their attendance. “I’m an equal opportunity political person: I even sent it out to the Conservatives.”