Vintage Vote poster by Obey

Vintage Vote poster by Obey

I’ve only done one other ‘political’ post before (about Aberdonian politics) which proved popular actually, but it isn’t what this blog was created for, so I want to keep it to a minimum.  However, I feel strongly about the upcoming US election and felt I wanted to say something about it before people go to the polls.

Just to give some context to where I’m coming from, I had a very multi-national upbringing.  My father is Hungarian, my mother American, my half-sister grew up in Germany, as did I for the first eight years of my life.  I have family members through marriage from Iran and Turkey and now Scotland, where I now live with my Scottish husband.  When we moved back to the US when I was just about 9 years old, I was really confused about my national identity.  I’d been taught some things about my American roots and spoke English (with a slight German accent apparently!), but having lived in Germany from infancy, I didn’t really feel American, although to be honest, I never quite felt German either.  When I was fresh off the boat in the US, going to school for the first time in the US school system, it felt odd and I felt like an outsider.  But I threw myself into it.  I remember memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance with my mom with enthusiasm, wanting so badly to fit in with my American classmates.  We moved to California (after brief stints in South Dakota and Colorado) after that, where I discovered that America is the melting pot it is purported to be.  Most of the kids I went to school with were first generation Americans, or had moved from other countries themselves.  I didn’t feel so odd anymore, so many of us were immigrants.  I once asked my dad if he felt like he stuck out – as I do here – every time he speaks with his accent.  He said no, because so many people in California have accents, it’s the norm.  As time went on, my identity as an American grew, but so did my identity as a citizen of the world.  We are all just people.  Boundaries are manmade and false.

That said, I love the US, and I’ve tried to defend it from some ignorant British anti-Americanism that I’ve come across since moving over here.  Being an expat once more in the UK has taught me to appreciate the little differences between cultures and geography.  There are things about the UK that are superior to the US (e.g., universal healthcare, better work/life balance, dairy products – seriously, people, the dairy in the UK is amazing…) , and there are things that the US does better (e.g., customer service, mixer taps, non-dry-crappy-cake, laundry equipment, Halloween…).  Sorry US & UK, but that’s the way it is. The grass is greener on both sides of the fence, but only in patches.  And although I no longer live in the US, and don’t have any immediate plans to return to live, my parents and other family members from my mom’s side are all still in the US, as are many friends.  I care what happens to them.

I’ll just admit right off the bat that I’m a firm Obama-supporter, and voted for him with my absentee ballot a few weeks ago.  If that makes you feel uncomfortable, read on.  I’m not the rabid liberal type – in fact, I used to be quite a lot more conservative than I am now – and my purpose with this post is not to try and convert you to my cause.  With one day to go before the polls open, most people’s minds will be made up really.  I’m appealing for restraint and sanity, to remember that we’re all Americans, that we’re all just people, and we’re all in it together.

This morning I watched the video that’s been floating around with Romney supporters in Ohio.  It’s pretty appalling, with some extreme ignorance on show.  But it also clearly was edited, and as we all should know by now, editing can make all the difference.  Yes, there are some morons out there supporting Romney, but perhaps this lefty media project purposely cut out the more logical-sounding Republicans.  So I had a look at the side bar to see if there was a similar project with Obama-supporters, and found this video of the same interviewer (who seems very Strong with the Force) interviewing more liberal people at Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity a couple years ago.  They sound almost as dumb.  The point being made by this interviewer is an important one that I wish more people would pay attention to.  There are a lot of people at these rallies because they just want to be a part of something, but they don’t want to do the work to actually inform themselves about any of the issues or facts that support them.  Romney’s camp has said that they don’t want to be bothered by fact checkers.  I’m not even going to dignify that with a comment, except to say that this kind of idiocy is rampant on both sides, the Republicans just seem to be a bit more blunt about this.  Many people vote based on nothing more than emotion and instinct, or a gut reaction to the candidate and the party they don’t like.  There are too many polarized red people and blue people.  Too many people taken in by spin and propaganda on both sides.  It’s not those people who are going to decide this election.  It’s the folk in the middle who are a bit more discerning.  There’re a lot of people making fun of undecided voters, but I can see how it could legitimately happen.  Someone might be fiscally conservative but believe that Romney will set women’s rights back by 50-100 years.  Or maybe vice versa, I don’t know.   Or someone who is ultimately really an Obama supporter but feels depressed and let down by their own high hopes last election, who can’t seem to get the energy up to care either way this time around.

I have one final message for my American friends ahead of this election before I shut up and let things be what they will be.  This election is incredibly important, and you can’t afford to just let this one slide and let other people decide one way or the other.  There are 2 Supreme Court justices nearing the end of their terms – the next president will likely majorly influence that branch of the government with their choice for many many years to come.  I have my own strong opinions of who is the better candidate, but that doesn’t matter just now. I just want to encourage every American to vote and express an opinion – people fought and died for that right, so make the most of it. And make sure that your opinion is based on facts.  Neither the liberal nor the conservative news agencies are telling you the whole truth.  Read and watch across the aisle, read sources from outside the US, no matter how uncomfortable it may be to face the opposition’s alien-seeming point of view. Play devil’s advocate. Try to get as good a picture of the whole truth and the global, long-term picture as you can. Try to sort the propaganda and rhetoric (and both sides are guilty of that!) from the kernels of truth hidden within, and then VOTE with your conscience. It’s the best any of us can do.

And now, commence nail biting…