If the world could vote, I wouldn’t have to wear this T-shirt

by Janice Hough on October 31, 2008

On Jan. 20, 2009, I hope to retire my favorite and most popular travel t-shirt. Titled “The American Tourist Apology T-Shirt,” it has those words on the front in six U.N. languages. On the back, in the same languages it simply says. “I am sorry, I know our president is an idiot, I didn’t vote for him.”

I have been stopped on the street in several countries when I have worn the shirt, and the comments have all been positive. There may be foreigners who like George W. Bush, but if so, they are pretty quiet about it. In China, an incredibly polite country, I wasn’t wearing the shirt when I asked a guide, “So what do you think about President Bush?” His response, “We admired very much your President Clinton.”

Now we are choosing a new leader, and while the average American may not pay very much attention to foreign policy, the rest of the world is paying a lot of attention to ours. Pick up any newspaper, from Canada to Europe to Asia to Africa, and there’s a good bet there will be an election story, often on the front page.

One site, iftheworldcouldvote.com, currently has over half a million votes from around the world, including 202 different countries. Admittedly the survey is unscientific and skewed towards English-speaking computer users who are probably younger than average. As of Oct. 29, however, over 86 percent of the world is voting for Barack Obama. With John McCain leading only in Albania and Macedonia.

Any change, whether we choose a young mixed-race man, or an older war hero, will clearly be viewed as a good thing. The London Times in fact, just ran a story about the worst US presidents of all time. (No, W. didn’t quite make the very worst in its estimation.)

Our president will have to do a lot more than impress people in other countries. But wouldn’t it be nice for a change to go abroad, and instead of apologizing (or pretending we are Canadian) just to say “Yes, I’m an American, and yes, isn’t it great we elected him president?”

(Note from the author: the views expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of tripso.com )

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  • John

    Editors … How does this posting have anything to do with travel? If I wanted to know about Janice’s political views I’d read a politics based website not a travel website.

    Please

  • Joe Farrell

    That’s it for me too – Dear Tripso Advertisers – you just lost a pair of eyes.

    I may not agree with even 25% of what GWB does, but I am not going to have my political beliefs insulted by some travel industry hack.

    This is my last post here. I’ll take my travel information, comments and advertizer viewing eyes elsewhere.

  • Pat

    I usually read Tripso in RSS, but I’ll probably start visiting the main site and commenting more often to make up for Joe leaving.

  • jlawrence01

    What does this have about travel?

    It is amazing, but when I travel internationally, I rarely hear about or discuss politics.

    Put the shirt up on E-bay. I am sure that many will feel comfortable wearing it the next four years.

  • Ellen Wheeler

    Thank you, Janice, for your comments. OF COURSE the standing of the US is relevant to peoples’ comfort level while traveling.

  • http://tripso.com Janice Berman

    Well said, Janice. On my recent visit to Greece, the best conversations were triggered by the Greeks’ question, generally put this way: “McCain or Obama?” From there, we would discuss politics in Greece, food, what visitors should see, and what Americans think about the rest of the world. So I would say politics is extremely germane to the travel industry.

    Janice Berman

  • Anonymous

    @Janice: That is a polite way of saying, I agree with your politics, so I’m giving you a pass. Grow up. “Germane”. As if using that term makes sense. Guess what Janice? Physics is “germane” to travel too, because the airplane has to overcome gravity. Should we be expecting physics posts on Tripso now also?
    That’s about the strength of your logic. BTW, that’s how arguments are won and lost in REALITY. Your excuses are paper thin.

  • Lauri Steel

    I wish I’d had this t-shirt 8 years ago! Wherever I have traveled people have asked about our President. Four years ago they said “how could you do it again?” But this past summer, the message was different: they were fervently hoping for a change in party as well as administration. You might like to think that politics shouldn’t matter in travel, but as travelers we are also ambassadors. And from the perspective of the rest of the world, a change is long overdue.

  • Kevin

    Bravo, Janice! I think there should be more of this sort of discussion on travel sites, not less. It is naive to think that politics does not impact our traveling, especially as US citizens, in a world in which US policies resonate everywhere. I have been in pubs, bars, restaurants and lounges across the globe in which discussions with locals often turn to US politics because, unlike US citizens, people in other parts of the world cannot afford to be blithely ignorant or oblivious to political realities.

    I agree with Janice – it would be great to travel anywhere in the world as a US citizen and, whatever your political stance, be able to have conversations with locals as friends rather than enemies.

  • BunnyFaber

    Whenever I’m traveling and somebody feels the need to slam my country I always try and return the favor. There is plenty of fodder out there, no matter where you are! Germany? Tons of room for improvement. UK? So how is the whole knife crime thing? France? Shall we save you again sometime? China? Why yes, I would love another delicious icy Milk-melamine in a counterfeit Chanel cup. Japan? We wrote your constitution! And it didn’t include mouthing off to me!

  • Ann

    In the past, I’ve had friends tell me to tell people abroad that I’m Canadian because most countries don’t like Americans. Well, I refuse to do say I’m Canadian when I’m not.

    So, whenever I visit foreign countries (my last five were to the Persian Gulf), I tell people I’m from Los Angeles or California, rather than America or the U.S. Somehow I feel they give me more of a free pass, and they seem to knowingly nod their heads as if, “OK, you’re all right then.”

    They do tend to politely ask me about my politics, and I tell them exactly what I think (which is usually what they think, too!).

  • DDDon

    Maybe you should take an extended vacation say for maybe “FOREVER”..
    This fantastic maybe some of us like to get away from the politics and come here to read your articles only to have you now slam and jam your political thoughts down our throats. Nice keep drinking the kool-aid!!!!
    AND PLEASE GET OVER YOURSELF!!!

  • Robert Martin

    I would also like to know how this if travel related. Does this site have to become political? If so, I will unsubscribe. I dont need more politics!

  • Robert Martin

    I have also taken the time to notify advertisers of the new political nature of this site–and told them I dont want to support them if they support this site.
    This was a good travel site–sad to leave.

  • Don Griffith

    What a sorry travel story. President Bush may not be my idea of an ideal president, but he is better than the Socialist leaders of any other country! By far! And, I would choose him over the Socialist Marxist that may be your next president. Talk about an idiot, you are one. I am unsubscribing from this newsletter as I do not want something like this used in partisan politics on either side.

  • Kevin Reager

    I join the list of individuals unsubscribing to tripso.com. I have no idea who Janice Hough is, nor do I care. She is obviously one of the idiots out there who believe that Obama, a racist Marxist, is somehow going to save America. I am not a fan of John McCain or President Bush, but both are far better than the dishonest Senator for Illinois.

  • Janice 1

    Of course politics is germane to the travel industry. Anyone ever hear of travel boycotts? This site should just be fluff, and I’m happy to see it tackle important issues. Like it or not, we are all world citizens, and as we’ve seen lately, our economies are inter-dependent. What happens here, doesn’t stay here: it affects the rest of the world; hence, those in other countries have a big stake in our elections.

  • Michelle

    I hate to think how the people who are getting so incensed about an article saying our next President (be it either candidate) has some work ahead to reach out to the rest of the world represents the USA when traveling to other countries. Though I never bring it up, I’m often asked while traveling about the American political situation. What we do does affect non-Americans so some are interested.

    I don’t remember seeing this outrage after the pro-McCain article a few days ago. Seems some are being biased and using the fear card — “I’ll tattle on you to your advertisers”. Tripso, I think you’re better off without them.

  • Robert

    Anyone who travels on tightly packaged tours or surrounded by Americans probably would not think that American politics is a relevant “travel” topic, but the briefest exposure to the country one is traveling in almost always immerses one in a discussion of American politics. And the US has acted so arrogantly and ineptly the last eight years that that experience has to affect one’s trip and memory of it. I’m with Janice, 100%. The experience is about to get a lot less embarrassing (I hope).

  • Ann

    Yes, Michelle, I did notice how hateful and angry some of these posts are. Socialist Marxist? Maybe a little bit too much Faux News (Fox News)?

  • S. Palin

    Great discussion, folks. Free speech at its finest. If you ever need somebody to drop a puck or fire a safety commissioner or shoot a moose, please give me a shout. I won’t be busy after Tuesday.

  • Dennis

    Thank you Tripso for all the information you have provided but sorry to say Janice is Jackass (Democrat)
    I am proud of my country and never would say I am from Canada or a Canadian living in America.
    She also failed to mentioned the disgrace another president brought to this country allowing knee bending interns to please him.
    While my personnel views may agree with Janice, she picked the wrong forum.

    If Janice wants to write about about her politics,there are plenty of other places she vent..
    I think that she should just get a different job and until then, I will be unsubscribing from your newsletter as I hope many others will do.
    There are many places to get information.

    Let me know when she is reassigned or longer employed and I will be happy to once again to subscribe to your newsletter.

    And yes I am a registered Democrat. (Jackass)

    Geez, I need to change that.

  • Dave

    I read this website for travel-related information, not to be indoctrinated on your political viewpoint. Please take this kind of drivel to your fellow lefty-loons on the Daily KOokS website. I’m not interested.

  • Bill Littlejohn

    Hey, people.Pull your heads out of the sand and take note.Forget whether or not Ms. Hough’s message is perceived political or not.Truth is truth.Reality is reality.Outside of the borders of this country, the U.S. is five times more hated than the old Soviet Union used to be.Someone here has to roll the dice and say something to these people abroad that hate us so much and I commend Ms. Hough for doing just that.What has her statement have to do with travel?It has everything to do with travel.Any more hatred abroad for the U.S. and it’s people and no one will be able to go outside of it.

  • Leslie

    I completely and utterly agree/and CANNOT WAIT till the day, which I hope and pray is next Tuesday, that I no longer have to apologize for the decisions a bumbling eejit (*irish term) has made on the behalf of the entire country. New to travelling internationally, I was amazed at the “shame” i felt as an American, a direct consequence of constantly having to apologize for how “America” (aka W) has acted in the past 8 years.

    I think next Tuesday, and the results that will surely follow, will make for the first time in many many many years, that I can I walk proudly abroad without fearing the ever constant onslaught of insults. Janice, I think its safe to say that shirt can be retired after next week.

  • Skip

    I agree with those who don’t want to read political opinion on Tripso.com. I know it’s real, but so are colostomy bags and diaper-changing rooms. Those two subjects have a lot more to do with travel than this piece.

    I won’t go so far as to quit my subscription; there are far too much data to be gleaned here for me to take such an extreme measure. However, I will opine that this piece was out of place here and that Tripso won’t try their hands at politics again. Ms Hough should post her political opinions to a more appropriate website, because no matter who is elected POTUS or dog-catcher, I’ll be traveling.

  • Marilyn Long

    I don’t get all the ire directed at Janice for expressing an opinion about how the election next week will make her feel more comfortable traveling in countries where the current administration has made America unpopular. Some have said that they were forced to read Janice’s comments and someone said she had shoved her political opinions down his throat. I am wondering how the forced feeding happened. I read Janice’s article only because I clicked on the title with my mouse. And I read all of it only because I scrolled down the entire piece. Nobody forced any of us to read any of it. So you didn’t agree with Janice? So what? Get over it. I don’t agree with many things that I read but it is pointless to whine about it. Quit reading if you are so little-minded that you can’t stand for a difference of opinion. If I wanted to be as hyperbolic as some who have commented previously, I could say that I was forced to read ad nauseum all of your verbal attacks on Janice and threats to never again lay eyes on a Tripso piece. But no one forced me to read that either. I don’t know Janice but her comments have a whole lot to do with international travel if you have spent any time talking with locals in other countries in recent years.

  • Internyet

    *

    * The sound of another unsubscribe.

    I couldn’t care less if it’s pro Democrat or pro Republican. I enjoy reading about travel, not politics. My apologies to Mr. Elliott, Mr. Leocha, and the other talented writers here.

  • http://GlennDicey.com Glenn Dickey

    I was amused by the negative reaction of some readers to Janice Hough’s column. You have to be seriously brain damaged not to know the ne negative effect of W on our reputation in foreign countries, especiaally European. On a trip to London in 2003 with my wife, I was in Harrad’s book department and saw a row of anti-Bush books. And this was before the REALLY bad stuff started. Since then, there have been multiple storiess and polls showing how predominantly anti-Bush Europeans are and how fervently they wish for a change to an American administion which would work with them, not bully them.

  • http://www.singleparenttravel.net John F

    What happened to the age old advice that one does not discuss religion, sex, or politics? Especially when traveling?

    I always tell my clients to blend in. Leave the red white and blue at home–not that I am ashamed, but it identifies you more readily as a target for a pickpocket or worse.

    I cannot imagine anyone wearing that shirt in a foreign country. It just does not make common sense!

  • http://www.perceptivetravel.com/ world traveler

    My wife has that exact same t-shirt and it has been a big hit every time we travel abroad. She will be very happy to retire hers as well after Tuesday. It’ll be nice to have a leader other countries like and respect again. It sure was easier being a traveling American nine years ago.

  • bazodee

    This is the sound of someone subscribing. I travel internationally all the time and I am constantly bombarded with questions about our soon-to-be-ex president. I was raised conservative and I have been embarrassed by the things done in the name of conservatives. But this is a travel website, so let me just say that on my latest international trip I was treated like I was a hero for what our country did. This is a great country and we are lucky to have what we have and travel as we do.

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