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The Buzz on Election Night in Vancouver

As gloom set in, Mayor Campbell was already fielding pleas for help from distraught Americans.

Scott Deveau 3 Nov 2004TheTyee.ca
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The Tyee.ca

Last night's American election was over in Vancouver as soon as Mayor Larry Campbell's Black Berry started buzzing.

"And it begins," Campbell said at about 11 p.m. as he read out an email from an American woman asking him for help to immigrate to Canada. "I'm going to get millions of these."

Campbell remained optimistic that Kerry was going win until the bitter end despite the buzzing of his Black Berry. The mayor was sporting his Kerry/Edwards button and was just one of the many Vancouverites glued to the election results across the city last night.

In fact, one group of Canadians is trying to make emigrating from the U.S. easier on their webpage.  The people behind Marry an American say they will marry off any discouraged Democrat, reformed Republican, or any apolitical with limited world-domination tendencies.

"When the provisional Ohio votes are counted and if George W. Bush is re-elected, single, sexy, American liberals - already a threatened species - will be desperate to escape," advertises the site. "These lonely, afraid (did we mention really hot?) progressives will need a safe haven. You can help. Open your heart, and your home. Marry an American."

Anyone seen a Republican?

Republicans were nowhere to be found in a country that would have awarded the presidency to Kerry on a silver platter if they could.

The Greater Vancouver Media Association's U.S. election party switched to CTV half way through the evening to comfort themselves with Jon Stewart's merry pranksters instead of watching the other networks, which seemed to be posting their own cruel joke in the election results.

A glum city councilor Tim Louis grumbled that he wished the bar owner would turn the channel back to hard news, no matter how hard the news might be to take.

Perhaps the saddest den in town was the Wolf and Hound on West Broadway, the official Democrats Abroad headquarters.

Conspiracy theories

Several conspiracy mummers circulated throughout the crowd about electronic voting machines being built by Bush's cronies and vote rigging in Ohio.

But the overwhelming consensus was that Bush managed to once again sell the American people on his stance against gay marriage and stem cell research, while whipping them into frenzy about future terrorist attacks. The irony was not lost on the crowd that Osama Bin Laden was on television last week telling the U.S. to change their foreign policy or there would be future attacks and they responded by electing the one guy who promised them more of the same. CNN's exit polls showed that only 8 per cent of those who voted for Bush thought his best quality was his intelligence.

Early optimism

Gordon Hawkins, a Langara international relations student from Los Angeles, was wearing the American flag as a cape and an Uncle Sam hat early in the evening. He cheered his way through every Democratic victory and jeered his way through the every Republican win.

"I voted for Kerry and I think we're going to win," Hawkins said.

However, his optimism waned near the end of the night as the results showed Bush leading the election. Hawkins eventually slinked off to watch the end of election at home with his girlfriend.

Ralph Nader was also a target for hisses last night.

Jenny Woodruff said this was because Nader's politics were too close to Kerry's.

"You don't see us booing the Libertarians," she said.

'Bunch of morons'

Janette Griffiths, a British expatriate from London, joined the Democrats at the Wolf and Hound and was a little less subtle with her election analysis.

"They're just a bunch of morons," Griffiths said about the American decision to reelect the president. "I hate to say it, but the world is concerned and you feel so powerless watching this."

Griffiths, who refers to Tony Blair as "Bush's pet poodle," said she was frustrated because at least in America, unlike England, there was an intelligent alternative.

What makes matters worse for Griffiths is that Bush now has a mandate.

Kerry conceded defeat this morning and Susan Mullen, chair of the Democrats Abroad in Victoria, said he really had no other choice since he didn't win the popular vote.

Looking to Obama

"Neither one of them were going heal this divide. The only leader, I think can heal this divide in America is Barack Obama," said Mullen, who moved from Chicago to Victoria six years ago. She said the new Democratic senator from her home state, an African-American, managed to win the urban Democratic vote in Chicago and the largely Republican in the rest of the state.

"My line this morning is that I've lived through Nixon. I lived through Reagan.  I can live through this," she said - albeit she will be doing it in Canada.

Scott Deveau is on staff at The Tyee.

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