It has been a while since I could settle down long enough to type out a message to you. My October has been filled with a flu, that later turned into bronchitis, and my mother came to visit me to celebrate her 70th birthday at one of the highest peaks in Switzerland.
Well, November is here. I finished my round of antibiotics yesterday, the semester is in full swing as I spend many nights in the computer lab, every store has their holiday specials up, and my inbox is starting to flood with the countdown emails to Black Friday. But of course, we are waiting to see what happens tomorrow on Election Day. I had just mailed my ballot on Saturday, it was sitting on my countertop for weeks before I filled in the bubble, sealed, and delivered it to the post office.
One of reasons I decided to pursue a higher degree in political economy is because I am interested in the way policy is created and how it impacts people. The intended as well as the unintended consequences need to be anticipated and law makers have to be flexible enough to adjust for anything. Policy is a vision for the outcome one seeks in a particular issue and how one strategizes to reach a set of goals. There is a lot more stuff that goes into policy making, like evaluations, resource management, power relations, and multi-sectoral planning. It doesn’t help that the U.S. is a federal system and it doesn’t have a lot authority in state and local sectors; so in our case, policy making is more complicated because authority is decentralized rather than our European friends who have national systems of governance.
I, like many Americans, have been astounded, fascinated, shocked, frustrated, and even disgusted at how we arrived with our two main front runners for the 2016 presidential candidates. Our arrival to this moment tells us that there will be a lot of work into reforming voting in the U.S., such as opening the primaries to more registered voters, rather than party insiders. But nonetheless, we are finally here and I don’t think this election, which has seen the bottom of the bottomless barrel, have ever caused so much stress and division to American families, friends, and relations.
I just want it to be over. Actually, I don’t even know if I want to live through the next 4 years. I’d rather be cryogenically frozen and defrosted some 50 years later.
But whatever happens tomorrow, know that on Wednesday, November 9th, we are still the same country that rest of world looks to as a shining example of democracy, opportunity, and liberty. Whether you know it or not, since post-WWII, the U.S. has been a major influence on political, cultural, and economic platforms; if we sneeze, Europe catches a cold, then Asia, Latin America, and Africa too. So yes, everybody is watching, and part of being a global leader and influencer means role modeling and setting the example for everyone else. Now my preferred candidate will not win tomorrow and I will not tell you how to vote, but only to vote. The only way your vote can be “wasted” or “thrown away” is if you do not vote at all. If you do not like any of the names on the ballot, there is a blank line to write in a name. Any name. It is not just a right, but a civic duty– your RESPONSIBILITY to vote.
While we have very real and serious issues to address after November 9th, I hope the weapon we will choose for the next chapter will be our pens or keyboards if you’re new school like me. The pen is more powerful than any fist or gun for changing our systems to fairer and more sound mechanisms that will work for the average Joe and Jane. So I will be up tomorrow night, watching and waiting with you all, good luck.