Dutch woman works on Obama’s campaign in the US

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Kirsten Verdel with Robert Kennedy Jr.

Thirty-year-old Kirsten Verdel of Rotterdam (seen here with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.) currently works at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the research department, helping with campaign strategy for Barack Obama.

“I’m not allowed to vote here, so what I’m doing is the next best thing,” Verdel said. “It’s a way to be involved, and that’s important because what happens in the U.S. directly impacts not just people in America, but people around the world, and not just world markets, but global policy.”

Verdel has effected change in her own country as a member of the Dutch Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid, or PvdA). She served as an elected member of the provincial parliament in South Holland and worked as a policy analyst for the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs. As a campaign manager in six elections in the Netherlands, she most recently helped secure the Senate-level election of a former Dutch minister.

Amazed by the financial and human capital involved in the 2008 presidential election, Verdel said in the Netherlands, all political parties combined spend the equivalent of $35 million for a national campaign. In America, one party can spend that sum in less than a week.

“Endorsing a candidate in the Netherlands would be like saying, ‘We’re not objective, we pick sides,’” she said. The role of Dutch newspapers “is not to endorse any position, but to write about it.”

Read the entire story here.

(Link: america.gov, photo: Kirsten Verdel. Thanks to the author Victoria Colette Reynolds for the tip!)

6 Comments »

  1. Oh my, a story from a website of the US Department of State may not be the most objective of reports. So Ms Verdel has joined Obamamania (and smitten by Democratic Party celeb RFK, Jr.). Your readers may be interested in this story which appeared in DutchNews.nl –
    http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2008/10/obamas_dutch_backers_get_polic.php

    “For example, 78% think Obama is opposed to the death penalty, 62% think he supports gay marriage and 56% think he supports gun control. In fact, the paper says, Obama supports the death penalty and the right of individuals to own guns, and is against gay marriage [although he opposes an outright ban].

    Some 75% of those polled support Obama as president.

    Dutch politicians are also surprised where Obama stands on social issues, the paper said, particularly when it comes to gay marriage. ´He is against it?’ said Gerard Schouw, a senator for the gay-friendly party D66. ‘Okay, he is against gay marriage but not against gays,’ Schouw told the paper.

    A survey conducted by Radio Netherlands earlier this week showed that 85% of Dutch expatriates and emigrants living in the US want Obama to win the race for the White House.”

    What’s telling in the DutchNews.nl report is how Obamamania has hit NL in much the same way that it has in the USA. Note how some liberals (a D66 senator, for example) in NL don’t really know much about Obama’s opinons. (The Dutch media are as much to blame as the American.) As in 2004 and 2000, people are voting out of fear and not out of conviction. (I’m voting for Nader.) Even this year, I’ve pointed some so called progressives to Obama’s centrist politics and his vote for FISA; continued votes for funding the Iraqi occupation (Obama’s not a peace candidate); willingness to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan; voting for the bail out bill; his support of nuclear and clean coal as an alternative energy source, they don’t know what to say or don’t want to.

    Comment by Jay Vos — October 31, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  2. 1) I keep telling my friends I don’t care about the elections and they keep telling me about them.

    2) I’m from Canada, we just had elections and nobody cares about what I have to say.

    3) The Dutch government is boring and gauche, I can imagine people want some action, warranted or not.

    4) McCain freaks me out, he’s too old and totally out of touch.

    Comment by Orangemaster — October 31, 2008 @ 4:47 pm

  3. “Endorsing a candidate in the Netherlands would be like saying, ‘We’re not objective, we pick sides,’” she said. The role of Dutch newspapers “is not to endorse any position, but to write about it.”

    Oh.

    Comment by Immigrant — November 1, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

  4. Obama is not a centrist, he is on the far right. The danger with discussing the politics of a country that as a whole is as far to the right as the US, is that you start mapping political opinions on the politics that are instead of the politics that could be.

    If I were an American, I’d be voting Nader too, but most of all I’d try and be engaged in local politics as much as possible, because I cannot see a top down approach (a presidential candidate for the left) work in a million years without strong “grass roots” support.

    In the Netherlands, the Socialist Party became quite strong simply because they were the only party who seemed to care about people on a local level. If they hadn’t built their name as a local party, they would never have gotten noticed at the national level.

    Comment by Branko Collin — November 1, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

  5. I personally find it difficult to read/watch detailed coverage

    Comment by lola granola — November 4, 2008 @ 10:53 am

  6. I personally find it difficult to read/watch detailed coverage of an election in any foreign country without imagining how I might vote if given the opportunity.

    The American presidential election is perhaps so especially fascinating because the whole process is such a protracted, attention-grabbing circus.

    Comment by lola granola — November 4, 2008 @ 11:04 am

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