Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 193: Election Day USA, 4th November 2008

Having decided that the most appropriate option from 'Post 192' was to continue frequenting social drinking establishments, .... last night I hit the town. In truth, I actually hit the suburbs, the industrial suburbs, ... 'town' is too far away. I found a Bar-Diner, ate lots of snack foods, washed them down with ice cold beer, watched the Monday night NFL game and chewed the saturated fat with a mixture of Canadians and Americans. There was of course only one topic of conversation.

Since I landed in Seattle on 15th August 2008, the conversation in newspapers and bars, on television and radio, on websites and camp sites, ..... has been the US election. Republican V Democrat, McCain V Obama, Palin V Biden, Red V Blue, .... Elephant V Donkey. The USA is proud of it's democratic process, ..... so proud in fact that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld tried their best to export it to others. I'm finally beginning to understand how this electoral system works, it's not quite as simple as it is in the UK. In fact if I'd been an alien arriving from another planet, I'd now be convinced that the US electoral system had been designed with the specific intention of confusing the voters and discrediting the candidates. It's not easy to follow or understand, the individual campaigns seem to have little to do with fact or truth, ..... I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to experience this process, ..... but the process itself doesn't exactly fill me with confidence for the future.

During the 80's and early 90's I was a very lucky boy, .... I worked in Riyadh for the Saudi Ministry of Defence, ..... it was a time when the Saudi's were swimming in oil dollars and seemingly relaxed about the antics of their 'Non National' personnel. For six glorious years I got to play with some amazing toys in some wonderful parts of the world, ... it's fair to say that during those years I didn't do a great deal of work. I met and worked with people from all over the world, I formed friendships with American Servicemen, .... people who were proud to Serve and Protect and who remained there throughout the first Gulf War, .. and thankfully most returned safely. I travelled, I came across endless amounts of 'Americana', ... it seemed that in those days the rest of the world wanted to be 'American', ... America was the ideal, America was the goal, ........ the 'Green Card' was the ultimate dream for billions of people around the world. Fast forward twenty five years and all of that has changed. I don't say this lightly but as I travel now, America has lost it's international gloss, it's no longer the 'dream', .... eight years of failed foreign policy has seemingly demoted America to the role of 'World Pariah'. Outside of America the 'Star Spangled Banner' which was seen everywhere in the 80's and 90's, ..... has now disappeared. It's a spectacular and historical fall from grace, ... even travelling Americans that we've met along the road are taking to wearing the Maple Leaf of Canada, ..... they find that it's safer, it receives more respect, it allows them to avoid confrontation. In many parts of the world, America is not 'unpopular', it is not 'disliked' .... America is actually 'hated'. Thankfully, many of the people that we've met around the world can mentally divorce the actions of the Bush Administration from those of the American People, ....... but whichever candidate is victorious today, .... they will have the steepest of international hills to climb. I wish them luck, the damage to America's world standing is far deeper than I'd imagined before this journey began. I'm sure that with the right administration it can be restored, ... but any new administration must learn to Listen and Talk before it Condemns. I try to explain to my new friends in the Bar that back in Britain the BBC tends not to refer to other Nations as 'The Enemy of Israel', or 'The Despotic Communists of China'. We certainly don't have an ideal Foreign Policy but at least we don't go out of our way to piss-off other Nations, ..... some of them agree, ... some of them don't, ... so we drink more beer and talk about taxation.

My big fear is not so much which candidate will win; surely replacing George W Bush can only be an improvement, ..... but that the results of this election will not actually represent the true wishes of the American people. It seems that the US voting and registration systems are in chaos, .... massive early voting lines, ... faulty voting machines, ... ballot papers containing the name 'Barak Osama', ........ and thousands of votes not being accepted or counted. I don't know why they need to make this election process so bloody complicated, ....... what's wrong with having a simple ballot paper, a HB pencil and few thousand people who can count beyond a hundred? Make 'Polling Day' a public holiday, encourage people to vote, ... encourage people to take personal responsibility for the futre direction of this great country, .... bring people in, .. don't push them away. My fear is that this historic election, unless it's a landslide victory to one or other candidate, will ultimately be decided by an army of lawyers. If that is the case, then the fine people of America will have been cheated, ..... if they have no confidence in the election results then the incoming President will have an even greater, and unnecessary mountain to climb. I'm now north of the border in Canada and I have my air ticket back to the UK, ..... but what happens in America today will directly effect everybody else tomorrow, .... wherever you might live.


fasthair said...

Blue 88,

You mean you picked all of this up in just 3 months of traveling here in the USA? I couldn't agree more on every point you bring up. In my best English accent, It's a bloddy mess, are electrorial system. You can add our bloody press to this mess also... oh wait you did.

After I vote here shortly I will will raise a cold one, for you, with you, and in your honor.


Jason Simonds said...

As an American, I can tell you the majority of people I know in the USA, feel the way you do. Your summary nails it for me and hopefully this election sends a message to the world that "Americans" do not agree with that actions of the last 8 years.

as we say here is the States ...

Ride Safe!

Doug K. said...

I waited less than 5 minutes to vote. That has been my typical experience in the 40 years I've been voting in cities large and small. The longest I've ever waited was 20 minutes.

God forbid America should start doing much of anything as Europe and the UK do (except for cars and motorcycles!).