Another Public Service Announcement from the Rest of the World

The whole world is watching with bated breath. In a few hours, there will either be a collective sigh of relief, or a collective gasp of despair. Everyone is waiting.

I would like to give everyone a bit of perspective, because maybe those of you in the States imagine that all this election fury is really only limited to your own battleground cities and heated debates in high-school classrooms, that everyone else in the world is going about their daily business, barely aware of the political war being waged today.

Not so.

EVERYONE here in the Philippines asks me who I think will win, if I voted yet, who I voted for, why some people want to vote for (insert name of opponent here), how I think they will do, will they be better at foreign policy, will Barack Obama take away their jobs? And that’s all in one breath. People in Indonesia were very curious as well.

In Nigeria, I am told that people would stop everything and glue themselves to the TV when Obama came on. In Kenya…well, just watch this video for an idea.

In Obama, Japan, election fever has hit the small namesake town, even in the form of Obama-christened souvenir pastries.

My English, Argentinian, and French coworkers are well-versed in each candidate’s stance on certain issues and have watched not only the debates but the SNL spinoffs, too.

I even received an email from a long-lost Italian friend who was thinking of me often as the elections neared, remembering a few years ago when I first mentioned that funny-sounding name to her and expressed, even back then, my excitement about him.

Newspapers worldwide post poll results as top headlines and the campaign’s latest turn is the top story on their local nightly news channels.

Everyone, around the world, knows that whatever decision is made tonight will affect them in a way that we, in the US ourselves, can barely comprehend. Imagine Americans following foreign elections with more fervor than they follow their own. As the reigning superpower, we have the luxury of knowing that no other country’s history will be more monumental than ours.

I was telling a friend today that I can’t imagine what it would be like to be from a tiny country. No matter where I go, America (and Americans) follow. I never have to tell anyone who the current president is, or what colors our flag has, or where exactly it’s located on a map. If you are from Slovenia, for example, there may be a time when you travel to a country and you are the only Slovenian there. Maybe the people you meet will never have even heard of the place, let alone the language, the customs, or the politics. That will never happen to me. My country is present in every other country.

It’s hard for anyone, even someone who is looking at the U.S. from a much farther, wider lens, to truly comprehend the impact we have on the world. Perhaps nobody understood our influence quite so well as when we tripped over our finances and saw the rest of the world fall beneath us.

And now, again, the world is hanging on to every word, watching TV on the edge of their seats with the same anticipation (or, in some cases, even more) than Americans themselves. We all want to know where to go from here, because wherever the US goes, it appears that we’re all going to go there together.

Celebrate democracy – cast your vote!


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