09:30 Quaide and I drive out to Vigaland Park. Rain threatens but the field is buzzing with people setting up tents. Oslo’s celebration in Vigaland Park began some years ago when Americans living abroad asked permission for some traditional American festivities on July 4th : barbeque, live music, baseball. Very shortly after some Norwegians joined in. This soon grew to tens of thousands of Norwegians.
11:00 Ken Burton from Republicans Abroad cruises past the DA tent for a friendly chat. We talk about the economy, health care, entitlements, the usual talking points. Why does it seem that our core values are so close but the matter of getting there so illusory?
11:34 Sverre Myrli, Norwegian MP, stops by the Democrats Abroad tent to see what we are doing and wish us well. When asked his opinion about the recent US Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama’s healthcare reform he said it was “strange from a Nordic social democratic standpoint to see Americans complaining about universal health coverage.”
11:59 Strolling about with my daughter, Hanna, we stop by the American Embassy tent. Hanna gets a stick-on tattoo (capital letters USA) applied by Liz of the Consular Section. There are big bowls of sweet cherry liquorice sticks and Tootsie Rolls on the table. Liz’s six-and-a-half year old daughter Flora shows offer her own tattoo with a lovely proud and satisfied smile.
12:25 After the US Marine Corp color guard marches forward with the American and Norwegian flags, the American ambassador to Norway, Barry White (no relation) makes a speech. “In Boston where I’m from,” he says, “we read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety. Would you like that?” “NOOOOO!” came the resounding reply.
The DA tent is getting lots of traffic from Americans making sure they’re properly registered to vote. This election isn’t going to be a slam dunk. Americans living abroad know their numbers could have an outsized effect.
I love the American food here. Say what you will but I can never outgrow mac and cheese, chili, rice and beans or a big, thick hamburger. At the Cafe Fedora tent I inhale a cup of excellent, spicy chili with a hunk of corn bread.
13:32 Quaide Williams, a driving force behind the Democrats Abroad tour, is in the tent signing up voters. In spite of the rain people keep coming in to register.
15:52 A young woman from Colorado comes in with a question. She registered to vote with her local Board of Elections and received her ballot for local elections. Does that mean she’s also registered to vote in upcoming Federal elections? Answer from DA Norway official Christina Skovgaard, “ it’s always safer to re-register and be sure. You can never register too many times!,” she says.
16:05 Took a walk through Vigeland Park. Two Norwegians are having an intense high speed game of catch with mitts and hardball. Back and forth, back and forth, fast! A woman in a Tupperware tent tells me they still have Tupperware Parties.
Walking on through Vigeland Park; it’s an extraordinary place. Gustav Vigeland gave the city of Oslo some sublime fountains and sculptures illustrating the human life and love in its wondrous varieties. Dozens of Chinese tourists joyfully clatter about photographing everything.
17:21 Cleanup. Tired. We hurry to break down the tent and get everything into the van before the rain comes. The clouds are yellowish grey and convoluted. No sooner do we close the van door when torrential rain falls. Later, Christina Skovgaard has fixed us a feast. Wonderful! Thank you Christina!