Friday, October 17, 2008

US vs Rest of World

I've just sent in my ballot for the presidential election. For the effect this will have on the election, I may as well have just put £1.80 directly into the post box. This is because:

1) I vote in California, which will go blue; and
2) they don't even count mail-in ballots unless the vote is really close, which it won't be, because see 1).

But I felt I should do my civic responsibility. Before I sent the ballot in, I brought it into work so people could see what it was like. The universal reaction was, "There are more than two choices?!" Ha. The other two things people can't understand are: the electoral college (fair enough; that bewilders lots of Americans, I think) and the fact that we vote for the actual person, not the party. That required a bit of explanation, which I'm uncertain cleared anything up.

But, really, it's amazing how interested people are in the US election. All the major news outlets have journalists over in the US covering it. TV channels here showed all the debates. Everyone is really informed about what's happening and at work, we've spent several lunch hours discussing it.

On the one hand, I think it's cool that people are plugged into what's happening in the world and interested in it. On the other hand, I hate that this feeds into the American egotism of "Of course they have to know what's going on here, 'cause we're that important." On the third hand, more than one Briton has told me (especially after Palin was announced as McCain's VP pick), It sucks that we can't vote in your elections, but at least we can be entertained by them.

As a comparison, I consider myself fairly well-informed, and when I was still in the US, don't at all remember seeing or hearing much about British politics, or, indeed, any international politics. Oh, we'd get wind of new leaders (if they lead "important" enough countries) after election or appointment, but we sure as hell didn't hear much about them otherwise. I don't even remember news of Tony Blair and Nu Labour coming in, in the '90s, and that was fairly major.

That concludes my political analysis. Either way, I'm going to be staying up late on the 4th, and drinking. Lots.


Lien said...

Oh wow, election time! I've been following the US elections as well. Well can't really get away from it all. It's in all the press here as well. I think the whole voting for the person rather than the party thing quite strange as well. But I guess that's the person you want as leader!! Now, Sarah Palin... keeps me amused for hours.

soknitpicky said...

I just did early voting today. Not that it will mean much because my state will end up going the other way, but oh well. It is embarrassing how little we know about other countries' politics. I do remember about Blair coming in, but not much else, really. Oh wait, there was also Cicciolina in Italy, but I think we only heard about her because the media was fascinated by her, um, unconventional previous occupation. :-)

jacqueline said...

your "on the third hand" observation is exactly how I felt when the election for Gov Schwarzenegger was happening in CA. I had no vote in that election so all I could do was watch in horrid fascination and be entertained.

In other news, FINALLY WA has something interesting to vote on: a death with dignity all our own!

Palin is a role model. She shows us that any woman can aspire to anything more or less. You don't even have to be qualified!