Monday, November 3, 2008

The global vote for America.


Come on people, VOTE! (photo source: ldcross)

I just turned in my ballot and I'm feeling mighty proud of myself. I encourage any Americans out there to exercise their right to vote and to vote responsibly. Your vote counts more than you know.

I had blogged before about my experiences in Kenya and other parts of the world where people were always asking me about my voting preference. I just returned from South Africa where things were not any different. In the ten days that I was there, US political news made the headlines every single day. In every conversation that I had with a stranger during those ten days - taxi drivers, people sitting next to me in the food court or restaurant, waiters, people I was meeting with for work - I was asked if I had voted and who I was voting for. South Africans seem to have a clear bias and preference for one candidate in this matter. I won't say who it is (but if you are really interested, here's a hint), but you can venture a guess and I am sure you aren't wrong. (though, I seriously think that if Bill Clinton ran for President, he would have a landslide victory...he is more popular than any other American!).

On my way back to O.R Tambo International Airport in Jo'burg, Tebogo, my driver and I got into my final conversation that day on the subject. I asked Tebogo why he was so interested in what happened in the U.S.

"Because what happens in America, affects the world," he said.

"How so?" I asked.

"You Americans don't understand how much we want to vote in your elections...and I wish we could," he said after a pause, "because the world would be very different." He continued, "For me, America is a symbol of hope. When you are healthy, the world is healthy. When you are sick, we are sick. Look at our stock market...struggling these days. Its because your stock market is sick."

"Do you think we are sick, Tebogo?" I prompted him.

Tebogo thought for a while and said, "Yes. But you can make it better. Vote for the right person and it will get better." He was silent for a bit longer and continued..."You see, in many of our African countries, we don't have this choice. You can vote and the government fights, and everyone fights, and then the country goes to hell [he was referring to Zimbabwe]. But its not like that for you."

At this point, we were getting close to the airport. I told Tebogo who I was voting for and why. He had a big smile on his face. " You chose well, ma'am. You chose for Africa." I think I did.

Remember, you are voting on behalf of the world. So please vote intelligently.

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