“As the election draws near, the activity of intrigue and the agitation of the populace increase; the citizens are divided into hostile camps, each of which assumes the name of its favorite candidate; the whole nation glows with feverish excitement, the election is the daily theme of the press, the subject of private conversation, the end of every thought and every action, the sole interest of the present.” – Democracy in America, chapter 8
This is how Alexis de Tocqueville described American elections in the 19th century. Starting on October 7, we will follow in the French philosopher’s footsteps. In the weeks preceding the presidential elections, we will travel along his route through the United States.
In the first half of our trip, we will travel from New York to the Great Lakes and on to the Canadian border and Green Bay. The second half will start in New Orleans and end in Washington D.C on election day (November 6).
We will pass through big cities and small towns, speak with the poor and the wealthy, with the young and the old, with Democrats and Republicans. And, of course, we will keep a close eye on Obama’s and Romney’s campaign activities.
The elections are the reason why we chose this particular time for our journey. However, our interests go further: Guided by Tocqueville’s observations and analysis, we want to learn more about American society and politics.
We will pursue questions such as these: What unites people? And what separates them? What do they worry about and what do they hope for? What do they think the future will bring for themselves and their nation? The weeks just before the elections seem like the perfect time to look for answers.
We will document our journey in videos, pictures and reports that we publish on this blog. That is also where people can see where we’ve already been, who we have met, and where we will go next. Under every post, people can comment and offer their feedback. Once we are back in Europe, we will create a detailed documentary with the best material we collected.
You can support us! We have set up a crowd funding project that let’s you donate small amounts of money in return for awesome little gifts we will bring you from the U.S. If the project is successful, we will spend the money towards more flexible means of transportation (renting a car for instead of taking buses and trains) and towards improving our technical equipment (e.g. better editing software). In short, it will make our reporting much better, so please support us!
Thanks and take care,
Sarah & Sebastian
Sarah Bidoli currently works as assistant director in a contemporary dance project in Berlin.
Sebastian Horn is community and social media editor at ZEIT ONLINE, a German news website.