Meet the Real-Life 'Hipster for Obama': An Unemployed Spaniard

A 25-year-old in Barcelona was surprised to see his image used on buttons promoting the president's reelection.

David A. Graham

Mitt Romney was unsparing in his view of America's Iberian ally during the first presidential debate: "I don't want to go down the path to Spain." A poll in October confirmed that Spain isn't so fond of Romney either. In a 21-country study, the BBC found the lowest support for Romney there.

But one young Spaniard was doing more than just talking when he unwittingly became a face of the Obama campaign.

Wandering around the merchandise tables at the Democratic National Convention, I spotted a set of buttons proclaiming the support of various professions for the president: dancers for Obama, bartenders for Obama, sisters for Obama (featuring a woman in a nun's habit), even a fisherman for Obama. But the best was, of course, Hipsters for Obama, since it enabled lazy political reporters to make cliche hipsters jokes.

Weeks later, I received an email from Sergi Labori Plana, a 25-year-old in Barcelona who had been shocked to see his picture popping up in blog posts. "A friend of mine send me a link and asked me if it was me. I said yes! It's me and I was fucking surprised. What am I doing on Obama's campaign? I'm Catalan!"

The answer was actually fairly straightforward. A photographer friend of Labori's had taken pictures of him, sporting a beard, Wayfarers, a stylish sportcoat-over-T-shirt look, and a diffident expression, then uploaded an image to iStockPhoto. Somebody with the Democratic National Convention Committee, whose logo was on the button, must have found the photo (labeled "Trendy boy with beard") on the photo site and used it for the button.

As with the original hipster button, the jokes practically write themselves: Obama has to outsource his support to Spain! Further proof that Obama is trying to turn America into Europe! Unfortunately, repeated requests for comment from the Democratic National Committee, of which the DNCC is a subsidiary, and to DNCC personnel were not returned, so it's unclear how the button came about, or whether they think these jokes are funny (wild guess: no).

Labori, meanwhile, had been desperately and unsuccessfully looking for one of the buttons as a souvenir. The online convention store is closed, and the button isn't for sale on the Obama site or the Democratic National Committee site. I told Labor I'd look for a version, but have been unable to get my hands on one. Even the distributor didn't know where to find them. Any tips and leads would be appreciated.

Is the button even correct? Labori won't cop to being a being a hipster -- "maybe I dress sometimes like them but I'm not" -- but of course no true hipster would ever admit they were one. Like many young Americans, the global recession has hit him hard. Despite studying criminology, private investigation and graphology, he's been unable to find work in any of the fields. Nearly a quarter of Spaniards are out of work, and the youth unemployment rate is above 50 percent. But at least one part of the button is correct: Labori says if he were an American, he'd vote for Obama.

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David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers political and global news. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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