Surprise! In case you are hiding from reality, and have no access to the internet, or social media, or newspapers, or friends… it’s Election Day in the USA. And I’m, quite obviously, in the UK.
I’m purposefully writing this post before results come in. I don’t want to get into a political post about who should or will or might or finally did win. Instead, I want to focus on what it might feel like to hypothetically be a foreigner in a foreign country on a day where everyone at home is talking about One Single Event.
I’m literally writing this post from a pub on campus, which has received a special license to open from 10 pm until 5am so they can run the returns and give students a place to watch/discuss/drink/celebrate/cry. I’m anticipating seeing all of that over the course of the evening. The room is full of many Americans who feel very strongly about whatever man decided is best for our country. There is also a
large — surprisingly large — contingent of students from countries all over the world. There is a sense that this election will determine the fate of not just Americans stateside, or overseas, but people in every corner of the earth. There has been coverage of the elections for weeks here in British papers. (I’ve included on the right two photos – the first is yesterday’s paper, and the second I pulled from the same newspaper’s website a few minutes ago. I’ll leave you to discuss the discourse surrounding “darkness” and what it means when you apply this word to the USA, but please note: this election is apparently a pretty big deal, even over the pond.)
My final observation on this day overseas is that I have been asked who I voted for more times than I can count today. I went to the bookstore to pick up a new notebook, and the clerk asked me if I was American (yes) and immediately after, who I voted for. I felt like he was asking me what color my underwear was. Whether my parents have a good relationship. Hi, we just met, but do you believe in fate? love? God?
Apparently, for all of our very democratic ideals and freedom-loving ways, America is a very private, keep-the-personal-quiet-please country. I couldn’t answer the question without blushing, because I feel like stating my political views out loud gives everyone around me the right to draw conclusions, assume they know me, or worse: judge. I am very confident in my vote for our nation’s next president, but I am also very certain that I don’t need to share that decision with those around me.
It’s important that we vote. And it’s important that we discuss issues before hand, with friends and family, strangers and adversaries. Voting is a responsibility hard fought for and a privilege denied to many across the world. We have the power to influence our own futures, whether that paints our future red, blue, white, yellow, green, purple or orange. It matters what each individual citizen wants, so please let your voices be heard. Just don’t tell me what you finally decided.
My two takeaways for the day: Vote with pride, and wear an American flag.