US Presidential Election 2020: what will the outcome mean for Americans in the Czech Republic?

Julia Bryan of Democrats Abroad and Roger Johnson of Republicans Overseas weigh in on one of history's most high-stakes elections

Tom Lane

Written by Tom Lane Published on 03.11.2020 10:06:00 (updated on 03.11.2020) Reading time: 6 minutes

American expats living in Prague as well as interested spectators from across the globe will have an eye on the polls Tuesday night as Republican President Donald Trump faces Democratic former Vice-President Joe Biden.

Nearly nine million Americans live abroad with around half a million voting in 2016 and many more expected to take part via mail, email or fax this time around. Two eligible voters who live in the Czech Republic happen to be Roger Johnson, Vice President for Europe at Republicans Overseas and Julia Bryan, International Chair of Democrats Abroad.

Speaking via Zoom Thursday morning, Johnson had some thoughts on what would happen should President Trump be re-elected to the White House:

“It's already started--the economy is coming back very quickly. I think the fact that the schools have been shut down in the blue states, without sufficient preparation for dealing with the problems that causes the families and the children, I think that will come back quickly."

Roger Johnson, Vice President for Europe of Republicans Overseas
Roger Johnson, Vice President for Europe of Republicans Overseas

“I also think we will see further actions on bringing peace. I worked in Afghanistan for four years as a NATO contractor and I can tell you, I never thought there would be any peace there at all and I'm happy to see that he wants to shut down the operation. We've been there 19 years and I don't think we've accomplished anything after billions of dollars being spent and many, many thousands of lives."

“I also think we'll be able to resolve the issues with North Korea and I think China will be held to account for not only some of the economic things they've been doing, but this horrible virus--it started in China, and I think they should be blamed for the damage they've caused.”

“I don't see any negative reaction, I think it would be a positive thing when the economy opens up and goes forward. – Roger Johnson, Republicans Overseas on a Trump win

Bryan, from Democrats Abroad, believes a Biden Presidency would focus immediately on economic recovery as well as trying to get the virus under control:

“He's going to be focused first on the pandemic, he's going to be focused on building the economy. It's basically working together to resolve these two very important things for the American population: how do you put in place common sense regulations that mitigate the pandemic but also bring the economy back and use this opportunity to bring in good environmental structures in the workplace in the United States as well?"

Europe is currently in the midst of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with countries including the Czech Republic, France, and Germany increasing measures targeted at dealing with the spread of coronavirus.

Many have been critical of the way President Trump has handled the efforts to reduce the spread of COVID in the US. Bryan is one of them.

Julia Bryan, International Chair of Democrats Abroad.
Julia Bryan, International Chair of Democrats Abroad.

“It's a disaster. Clearly, he doesn't care about the population, his empathy levels are less than zero. If that's at all possible. Just look at what happened in Omaha the other day, where thousands of people were left in that massive area without any way to get out. And were suffering from hypothermia.

“It's unbelievable actually, and that's an important state. That just demonstrates how little he cares for his voters. He really thinks that they're expendable, unfortunately, it's really horrible.”

“If Biden wins, then I think we can hold up our heads again. Many Americans abroad feel they are pitied to be from the United States – and that is a horrible feeling. – Julia Bryan, Democrats Abroad

Johnson takes a different tone when questioned about the President’s measures.

He believes Donald Trump has done a good job in difficult circumstances.

“The first confirmed case in the United States of COVID illness was like the third week of January. On January 31, President Trump implemented a travel ban from China; for anyone traveling from China coming to the US, he stopped it. The next day, Joe Biden had a speech where he called that xenophobia and fear-mongering and just went after the president."

“A little bit more than a month later, during Chinese New Year in San Francisco, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told everyone to come to San Francisco Chinatown and celebrate Chinese New Year and there's nothing to be worried about. Now, of course, history has changed. And they said ‘oh it's all Donald Trump's fault.’ Well, I disagree. I think first of all that by implementing that travel ban, he saved at least a couple hundred thousand lives, if not a million lives by doing that.”

Democratic candidate Joe Biden is currently ahead in the national polls as Hilary Clinton was during the 2016 vote, which eventually went to Donald Trump, shocking many pollsters and the political establishment.  

What would a Biden win mean for Americans living in the Czech Republic? Bryan thinks it will be a good thing:

“Well, if Biden wins, then I think we can hold up our heads again. I don't know how many Americans you talk to about this, but many Americans abroad feel their pitied to be from the United States-and that is a horrible feeling.

“We need to make sure that America is leading on environmental issues, we want to make sure that America is doing the right thing when it comes to the population, we don't want to be a third-world country.

Bryan appeared on behalf of Democrats Abroad in front of the Charles Bridge, during the Democratic National Convention in August
Bryan appeared on behalf of Democrats Abroad in front of the Charles Bridge, during the Democratic National Convention in August.

“Living in Europe, you live in a place where you see the results and the benefits of low-cost education and good health care. It's just a pity to look back at the country where you're from and see so many people suffering because of bad policies.”

Johnson however thinks a Trump victory would be good news for U.S. Expats.

He added:

“I don't see any negative reaction, I think it would be a positive thing when the economy opens up and goes forward. I also think that, for instance, issues like Brexit and how that works out."

“I think that will be something that the US will be assisting where we can and where it's proper to, to work that out. I think we've had excellent relations with the countries here in Europe for many, many years.”

With gatherings restricted, Johnson and Bryan, like many American expats living around the globe, are planning to watch the results come in alongside video calls with other Republicans or Democrats.

Joe Biden via Flickr / Gage Skidmore; President Trump via US Library of Congress
Joe Biden via Flickr / Gage Skidmore; President Trump via US Library of Congress

“I'll be watching and crossing my fingers and tracking everything. But I can tell you, I'm getting more confident that we're going to be successful on this in exactly the situation from 2016 where nobody thought Donald Trump is going to win,” Johnson said.

“I'll be for sure involved in video calls. I've got a group I'm in contact with from Republicans overseas in Hong Kong. So that's quite a time difference--and so we will all be discussing that and be watching. This is a very important election.”

The results are going to start coming out around 8 p.m., eastern time, which is around 2 a.m. in the Czech Republic, but Bryan is also planning a busy evening.

How to watch: Coverage of the US Presidential Election will be available from 11pm on CT24; NBC news will be streaming election coverage on YouTube, and Sky News in the UK will also be streaming live on YouTube.

“We will be watching around the world on Zoom calls and also I'll be talking to a lot of press throughout the night. But, 8 p.m. Eastern, which is going to be 2 a.m. our time, that's when it's things are going to start getting interesting and then we will be watching throughout the rest of the night and into the day,” she said.

“There are going to be some places where the results are going to be tight, so tight that they can't be called. But I think there will be some states that can be called and so that's going to be really interesting to see. We’re telling everybody, we are hoping that it will be called on the fourth but expect a longer scenario."

So while the polls will be closing on Tuesday, it could be a while yet before we know who will be the President of the United States for the next four years.

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