Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Watch in Thailand

Americans living in Thailand react to President Barack Obama's reelection victory during the US Embassy's election watch party at a hotel in Bangkok

History was made in the US Tuesday when the nation reelected, against all odds, Barack Obama to a second four year term. 

This is the first year in nearly 30 years of being a photojournalist that I missed most of the election season, or at least the home stretch of the election season. But that's what happens when you move to Thailand six weeks before the election. 

It was weird being in Bangkok and following the election from afar. Thais follow the horse race nature of American elections pretty closely and they like President Obama. They like that Americans (most of us anyhow) put our past behind us and elected an African-American, and they like Obama's message of inclusiveness. For Thais, whose democracy has been tested by coups and military crackdowns, it's proof that things can change. 

Finally George W. Bush was not popular here or anywhere. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not and are not popular. (I covered the US Embassy's 2004 election party in Mexico City, when George W. Bush was reelected. One of the headlines in the Mexico City papers then was "Four More Years of Terror." I thought that headline said all you needed to know about the Bush administration's international standing.)

Covering a US election from outside the country means covering the US Embassy's election watch party. US Embassy's everywhere hold election watch parties. Local dignitaries and media are invited to watch the count while the Ambassador and embassy employees explain the process. The parties are strictly non-partisan. 

I'm sure the embassy employees have political leanings, but they were definitely "sitting on their hands" during the party in Bangkok. They didn't express any feelings one way or another whether it was discussing national races or local races. They explained the process without taking the sides. Which is their job. 

The attendees though were not bound by the non-partisan ethic. Most of the people at the party supported President Obama and as the early results with Mitt Romney leading came in they were pretty glum. But once the vote count picked up steam and the President's victory became apparent the enthusiasm grew. 

I made most of these photos towards the end of the morning (Bangkok is 12 hours ahead of the East Coast, so 10PM in New York is 10AM here). 

There are more photos of the election watch party in my archive

Finally, many of the photos in my archive, and almost all of the ones from Thailand, are available for editorial licensing and self fulfillment for prints. If you see something you want to use or hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the on screen prompts.