Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night

Ok, no BS on who's going to win - as of now, I don't know. And nothing on why either candidate should win either - lots of people have done better jobs on that. What I'm going to tell you is a story illustrating US politics.

Going to the Purdue Students' Union Building this morning, I saw a person ask people "Have you voted?" and pointing a couple who evidently hadn't towards the general direction of the nearest booth. I'd noticed people doing things on these lines for a while. For over a year, the news has pointed out how young people love Obama and attend his rallies and so on. Being in Indiana, a hard-core Republican state, I found similar action taken in favour of McCain, and this wasn't anything new.

On the way back, I notice this girl who's taken the current shift of asking people to vote. She tells me "Have you voted, sir?". I'd made it a point to look apologetic when telling them I'm not a citizen, and I do the same now. "I'm not a US citizen, so I can't vote" I tell her.

"Yeah, I know how it is. I'm 17 and can't vote till next year either" she says.

Note the number and voting status there. 17. This kid's still in high school, or is a freshman in college. Her batchmates are figuring out majors, sports teams, girls, GPAs or all of them. She takes this initiative to get people to vote (not vote Obama, but vote), and that despite being unable to vote herself.

This has been the real suprise to me in the Unites States, not the stuff about "a black man cac against all odds become president yada yada..". The importance people - and I mean middle class, educated people, who back home only may have voted, and would then moan about how it came to naught - attach to this responsibility.

Presidents come and go, and Obama (if he wins) is no exception, however much he may be a darling of the media at present. What is amazing in the United States is this attitude the people have towards politics, wherein they guide you to poll booths, volunteer to register you to vote (earlier on), set up clear directions to voting booths on campus and even offer voters discounts on coffee (Starbucks). This, and not party ideology, is what makes this country's offices strong, however accomplished or not the holder may be. Democratic power lies with the people. In the US, the people pro-actively wield it.


Greyscalp said...

I do agree with you that mobilization is one of the healthiest things to come out of the election, but in the past couple of days I do also see the importance of the "black man against all odds..." bit.
There is and will continue to be a steady progression in the average values in society. But I was still surprised by the voter turnout in favour of Obama. It's amazing how much generational replacement can do for the psyche of a nation.

Akasuna no Sasori said...


All said and done, I find the "fairy tale" aspect, well, a fairy-tale. I find it funny that everyone is still marveling over this election, in USA and elsewhere. I think the real victory is in the mobilization and the realization by people that this old spin-based system of "good ol' W" isn't working. One wonders, what would the outcome have been if Wall Street had not emulated Hiroshima in Aug-Sep 2008?