NEW YORK - Bumper stickers and a good bottle of wine

The presidential battle in the United States through Flemish eyes! Today part 7: Gerrit De Vos writing us from Long Island, New York. "For the first time since I became an American citizen about 10 years ago, I am at a loss on who to vote for. Maybe Gary Johnson? Or Jill Stein?"
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Gerrit De Vos (48) lives on Long Island, in the New York City suburbs. He emigrated to the USA in 1990 after finishing his studies at University of Leuven. He is married, with 3 sons. Gerrit works in the travel industry and facilitates travel arrangements for international visitors to the United States.

Not voting, then? ... no option!

For the first time since I became an American citizen about 10 years ago, I am at a loss on who to vote for. Gary Johnson? Well, I do consider myself more Libertarian than Republican or Democrat, so that may be the way to go. But ultimately, it is a lost vote of course. He does not stand a chance. And he does not even know what, let alone where, Aleppo is. Jill Stein? A lost vote as well.

Maybe not vote at all ? Not an option, of course. Voting is a right – not something compulsory like back home in Belgium. It would completely go against one of the main reasons I became an American: be able to vote.

A good bottle of wine

In my circle of friends and peers, you have those who are unrepentantly pro-Donald. And you definitely have those who are completely behind Hillary. But the overall feeling is that most people don’t like either option. I certainly don’t either. Even my outspoken, hard-core Republican father-in-law is not onboard with The Donald.

Quite certainly, he and almost all others will end up voting along their party affiliations. Eventually, those who are not registered Republicans or Democrats will ultimately decide the outcome of the vote, especially in those key swing states that are delegate heavy. Think Florida and Ohio.

What is different from previous elections is that I do not really want to talk about it. I have always enjoyed a healthy debate, especially over a good bottle of wine. But I seem to avoid discussing this election. Quite quickly, every conversation ends in a slinging back and forth of empty slogans.

"The media have been feasting on this election"

I do not consider myself a one-issue voter. Of course immigration is an issue. But I always come back to the point that I am an immigrant myself. And I have come to the point that I filter a lot of my thinking with that in mind. I travel to Europe multiple times a year – and clearly, it is an even bigger issue there.

Terrorism, in all its ugly forms, and intolerance are equally much of an issue. The ongoing inequality, the maddening obsession with guns in this country, and the lack of a true universal healthcare system as well.

The odd bumper sticker

Undoubtedly, the media - both the traditional kind and the social version, both here in the USA and abroad - has been feasting on this particular election. However, in every day life, at least here in suburban New York City, the election is not that visible yet (this article was written a couple of weeks ago, red.). Yes, you can see the odd bumper sticker or lawn sign here and there already. The mailing and robocalls have not really started yet. That is just a matter of time, of course.

Ultimately, I will settle on one person to vote for. I certainly hope to be able to get to the point to do so with a clear conscience. And still have that clear conscience after the vote.

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