United States Election: An open letter to voters

As Election Day looms in the US, people in every country watch and wait, while one reporter appeals to Americans to vote responsibly…

You may have noticed in the past weeks, months, and years that this Tuesday has been marked down as a special day in the multi-faceted history that makes up the United States and its citizens.
A day that the myriad of commentators, politicians and activists that fill the newspapers and airwaves would have you believe is the most important in shaping the future of your country.

And they’re right. It is important. The decision you make on Tuesday could go down in history as one of the most momentous ever made. The incoming president will, potentially, have the power to shape not just the next four years, but also the medium to long-term future of the nation, and the political, cultural and sociological well being of the world.

The US stands at a crossroads. It is mired in a conflict with no apparent end, struggling to comprehend the balance between domestic economic development and the realities of the global marketplace, and a so-called war on terror whose origins have their roots embedded so deep that it would take a year of seven-second sound bites to understand and appreciate its significance.

Within its borders, the challenges are mounting. Healthcare coverage is falling, unemployment and poverty are rising, and the baby-boom generation is rapidly approaching retirement, which will bankrupt social security in time for my generation, not to mention others to come.

All of these, and many others that will rear their ugly head through the forthcoming four years will need facing, and understanding, and addressing, not just for those who voted and funded either candidate, but also for every citizen.

In a nation of the here and now, you must also consider the future of the nation.

The Supreme Court appointed your president. In a world of political stagnation it is the place where hundreds of decisions are made every year that affect not just the plaintiff and defendant involved, but you, your neighbour, everybody you know and those you don’t in more ways than is comprehensible to most of us.

The incoming president will have the opportunity to put several justices on the bench, thereby, through the peculiarities of bureaucracy, shaping the future of the nation long after he, his successor, and his successor’s successor have departed the White House for a world of lecture tours and book signings.

And in an election where, understandably, your cares are to do with you and the people you love, you also should consider your place in the world.

The people of the world look to America. As the only superpower left, it is in an unrivalled position to set the example for the rest of us to follow. In the way we conduct ourselves, in how we treat others, no matter their opinions, and in influencing what issues that get given importance on the international stage.

And while you may not care about a Chinese sweatshop worker, a South African car technician, a French winemaker, or an Arab terrorist, they sure as hell care about your decision, about your future. For they, like me, know that what goes on in your backyard has a direct effect on ours.

This election is more than about navel-gazing. It is a choice between leadership and domination; respect and hatred; understanding and a head in the sand; and, dare I say it, realism and ideology.

The next president of the United States will need to have the responsibility of Truman, the diplomacy of Kennedy, the fortitude of Roosevelt, the compassion of Carter and the leadership of Reagan. More importantly, he needs to understand why he must have all of the above, and more.

But far be it for me, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people outside the United States to try and tell for whom to place you vote. We have our opinions, yes, and I for one know whose button I would press, or cross, or dimple the chad.

But I’m not going to tell you; it’s not my place to do so. What is my place is to remind you of the importance of your vote, of the importance to vote, and the awesome responsibility that lies in your hands when you step into the booth?

The United States of America is a fantastic country, which is why those of us who visit, appreciate and love what you offer all care so much about what happens on Tuesday.

May you be granted wisdom in your choice.