Monday, 5 November 2012

All Eyes on America...

America's been making headlines here lately.  Our minister even mentioned it on Sunday--we were asked to pray for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and to pray that the American people "vote wisely" in the upcoming election.  (I'm glad he didn't specify what he meant by that...'Separation of Church and State' goes both ways, mate!)

For my part, I voted weeks ago.  My ballot came in early October and I returned it straight away.  I've been decided since 2004, when I first heard Barack Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention.  He was so inspiring and fresh--not like the candidate who he was supporting that night, John Kerry, with his gray, washed-out appearance and monotone voice.  His books Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope further cemented his position in my mind as the best choice for President of the United States.  Seeing his gracious acceptance speech in 2008, when he said "For those of you whose support I have yet to earn, I will be your President, too" (or something to that effect), made me so proud to be an American.  The next day, a classmate from Uganda shook my hand and said 'Congratulations!'--the fact that he was so happy about our new President spoke volumes.  My main concern all along was America's image in the world, and I knew that Obama would be the one to turn it around.

The question they always ask when there's an incumbent candidate: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Well, it's a bit ironic, really--after campaigning for Obama in 2008, I spent most of his first term living abroad.  But yes, I'm better off than I was 4 years ago.  In 2008, I had just graduated with my BA and was unemployed, didn't have health insurance because I was too old to be on my mom's, and owed a massive amount of student loan debt.  During these past four years, I've received federal direct loans in order to finish my MA and PhD, and Obama has passed student loan reform to make my repayment easier once I finally do graduate.  He's also increased the number of Pell Grants, another form of student aid that helped me during undergrad.  During these past four years, Obama's health care reform has made it so that other young people in my position would be allowed to stay on their parent's insurance plan longer. So, yes, things are better for people like me.

But that's a very selfish way of looking at voting.  The classic question above is flawed.  We shouldn't be looking at ourselves or people like us--we should look at the most vulnerable in our society, and how our vote would affect them.  My grandpa used to say that he was a Democrat because "Poor people are better off when the Democrats are in power."  I'm inclined to agree with that, and I think Obama & Biden would, too.

In 2008, my electoral vote prediction was spot-on--I called every state right.  This time around, I'm not sure I'll have that kind of success, but I'll give it a go for posterity.
Obama: 303 (Swing states: Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania)
Romney: 235 (Swing states: Florida, North Carolina)