Representing Germany’s US Democrats in Denver

On the eve of presumptive US presidential nominee Barack Obama's highly-anticipated speech in Berlin on July 24, Democrats Abroad delegate, Shari Temple, tells The Local what's important to American voters living in Germany and why Germans are so fascinated with Obama.

Representing Germany's US Democrats in Denver
Photo: DPA

In late August, Temple, Vice Chair of Democrats Abroad Germany, will be one of 22 delegates representing overseas Americans at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

The 57-year-old from Richardson, Texas has lived in Marzling, Bavaria since 2001 as managing director for Aidmatrix Foundation Europe, a provider software solutions for humanitarian aid organizations.

Temple’s active DA chapter and her work to ease expat voter registration with has earned her recognition within the organization, and she was elected as a delegate in March at an international Democrats Abroad meeting in Brussels. She is pledged to vote for Senator Barack Obama. Each of the Democrats Abroad delegates have half a vote which make up a total of 11 delegate votes for the Democratic presidential candidate.

The Local: How did you get involved in politics?

Shari Temple: I’ve always been a Democrat, but I didn’t really get involved in politics until 2004, and that was for two reasons. First, I took early retirement, so I had extra time. And since I had time, I thought, ‘what can I do to get Bush out of office?’ and I got involved in Democrats Abroad.

The Local: What do you think the top issues for expat Democrats voting from Germany are?

Shari Temple: The top issue is Iraq. In Germany we have the Rammstein military base where many of the wounded soldiers are treated, so in many ways it’s closer to home. The Germans in that area see people more impacted than perhaps many people in the US are impacted by the war.

The second issue is the economy, especially because many expats have an income based on the dollar, and the exchange rate is difficult.

The Local: Why do you think Barack Obama is so appealing to Germans?

Shari Temple: I think it’s mainly because they have seen the negative repercussions of Bush in office, and are ready for a change no matter what it is. I’ve only spoken to one German who is for McCain. Most seem to be for Obama. They’re so fascinated with our election – it’s different and of course the press has a field day with it. The main appeal is that he’s not Bush, and his projection of change resonates well with them. They understand he’s not a typical American politician who appears to be much more open to diplomacy.

The Local: What do you think the upcoming international tour will do for his campaign?

Shari Temple: It’s going to help him make the right connections and understand the international scene in order to formulate a final platform on international policy. This of course also depends on how the media frames the events.

The Local: What’s it like being a Democrat for Texas, President George W. Bush’s home state?

Shari Temple: (Laughs). Well, I’m from near Dallas, which is more liberal than the rest of the state, but I’ve seen a shift among my Republican friends since 2004, when some of them started saying, ‘I’ve always been a Republican, but now I can’t vote for Bush.’

The Local: What are your goals for the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August?

Shari Temple: I want to learn more about the process and help people realize that their vote counts and they should vote from abroad. It will be a learning experience for me, I’m hoping to make a personal impact, but more so after I return.

The Local: How has being an expat changed your political views?

Shari Temple: I like different cultures and experiencing life from a different viewpoint. I think I have more open, realistic views than before. I don’t think any American can live abroad without gaining a different perspective on America. I think I’ve become more open-minded and understand world politics better. I still find it an adventure.

The Local: What do you look forward to when you go back to the States?

Shari Temple: I have to have Mexican food. And a real hamburger. And a margarita.