Election Day

4 Nov

Happy Election Day! I have to admit, it’s been kind of fun spending this year’s election season in Egypt. It’s interesting to get an international perspective on the elections, especially this year when the whole world seems so invested in what happens today. Although I do miss those incessant negative political ads on TV and being hounded by robocalls during dinner.

It’s going to be a long but fun night for Melissa and me. First we’re going to the Hard Rock Cafe for the US Embassy elections party — it starts at 9:30pm and goes until 9:00am. I don’t think we’ll quite make it all night, but we’ll go for a couple hours before coming home, catching a quick catnap, then getting up at 2:00am to start watching the results come in. For political nerds like us, this is like Christmas — especially when those packages in bright blue wrapping paper pop up — but it only comes every four years!

Through the American Studies Center, we organized a mock election on campus today. I figured it would be a fun way to get everyone on campus involved and excited about the elections — and to give those who aren’t American citizens the sense that they participated in some way. We set up a booth in the middle of campus, and, in the grand tradition of Chicago politics, bribed everyone who came and voted with drinks and candy bars. Given the almost unanimous support for Obama here in Egypt, the only suspense was how big he would win. There were 716 votes cast: 631 for Obama (88%), 69 for McCain (9.6%), and 16 other (2%). For some reason I think the real election today might be just a tad closer. We had a great time, the students were really excited, and we even had one of the big Egyptian TV stations send a camera crew, and we’re going to be on their 10:00 news show!

But by far the best part about the day came when I went back to the history department. One of the Egyptian departmental secretaries gushed about how much she loved the event. She said, “Dr. Mason, you have no idea how much I loved voting. Even though I know it didn’t count, and I don’t have any say in the American election, just having the opportunity to choose between different candidates made me feel valued and alive. We don’t get to do that in this country — you don’t know how lucky you are in America.”

If you read this before the polls close, and if you haven’t voted yet, please take the time to go out and exercise your right to vote. Even if you think your vote isn’t very important and doesn’t matter on a day when 130 million votes will be cast, think about my department secretary — and the other billions of people who live in countries without free elections — and do it for her, and for them.

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11 Responses to “Election Day”

  1. Sara November 4, 2008 at 9:42 pm #

    I have a friend whose parents in Ohio got a call last night from a telemarketer, and her dad said, “Oh, I’m sorry, we’re only taking political calls this week.”

    I loved this post. Thanks for it.

  2. Kevan November 4, 2008 at 11:09 pm #

    Great post. And you’re right about the international flavor. It seems that our presidential election is as big an event in the Middle East as it is in the states.

    Powerful insight about the freedom of choice.

    Kevan

  3. Jeff November 5, 2008 at 3:49 am #

    That is pretty humbling. It is good to be reminded of how good we have it in the US, especially after a long campaign season and the inevitable negativity that comes with it. (It seems like the world will end no matter who wins, if you listen to all the political spin)

    At least we do have a choice, even if your vote only really counts if you are in one of the few “toss-up” states. 😉

  4. mom November 5, 2008 at 3:50 am #

    We had a mock election at school today after some intense lessons beginning in August on electoral process. Results: Out of 608 votes, Obama by a landslide, and write-in candidate Pedro (8 yrs old) edging out McCain by one vote. (2 votes Pedro, 1 vote McCain)

    P.S. After carefully considering Obama and McCain policies, Dad decided a happy life was infinitely better than a miserable hen-pecked one and did not cancel out my vote after all. Smart man.

  5. Melissa DM November 5, 2008 at 4:16 am #

    Dad voted Democrat?! Oh, he is NEVER living this down!

    We’re up in the wee hours watching the returns right now. Finn is sleepily watching with us. We might as well involve him in the family obsession early. Sooo exciting!!!

  6. John November 5, 2008 at 4:26 am #

    Great post, Patrick. I suppose it’s your turn to celebrate on one of these political yuletides.

  7. Stacy Andrew November 5, 2008 at 4:38 am #

    Jack voted in pre-school today – which juice to drink. Orange or red. Jack voted orange. Red won. Hard lessons.

  8. Jillian November 5, 2008 at 8:34 am #

    Such a great post. I might come back & steal that last paragraph…but I’ll give credit where it’s due. It was good to vote today, and to stay up late and watch the results. I even read the kids “Duck for President” before leaving for the polls. What a wonderful day.

  9. Melissa DM November 5, 2008 at 10:25 am #

    Sigh. We’re totally content here in the Mason household. We huddled on the couch early this morning and watched Obama’s speech. I’m just really really happy and hopeful.

    Patrick was too modest to mention it, but he’s napping right now because in a few hours he’s due at the American Embassy where he’s been invited to give a post-election analysis to the US Ambassador and 50 Egyptian VIPs. Send him good thoughts!

  10. Javi (not the brother) November 6, 2008 at 3:21 am #

    Hey Mel,

    Called last night. Patrick sounded tired and you were asleep.

    Remember that mock-election we had in 4th grade? Bush won in a landslide and Perot got more votes than Clinton. But me (and I think 2 or 3 other kids) got the last laugh.

    That’s the only mock-election I think I’ve ever taken part in. Definitely got more satisfaction after the real one this year after having spent a lot of time volunteering in New Mexico.

    And it went for Obama!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Go Vote! « State of d'Nile - November 2, 2010

    […] both a right and a privilege to participate in our government. If you don’t believe me, re-read this. It’s amazing that it was already two years ago that we were staying up all night and Patrick […]

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