Tuesday, November 04, 2008
One great thing about being an American: Hope for our country
Today is election day in the United States. From the coverage on CNN, a viewer here would think there is nothing else happening in the world today. I'm sure the news hype in the States is even worse, so it will be a relief to many to have this endless campaign at last at an end. And if people like myself who are just news viewers are tired of it, I can only imagine how tired the candidates and their entourage are. Before my AWC Community Services meeting this morning we were discussing the election and remembering back a year ago in the spring at the election of the Nigerian president and the apathy of the citizens in Nigeria, many of whom didn't bother with voting or care about voting because they didn't see that any result would lead to a better life for them. Also it seemed that many felt that people in power had already decided the outcome and it didn't matter what the real vote count would show. It's obvious that many people in the United States care about this election and have opinions on which candidate would be a better president. I sent in my absentee ballot because I think it's my responsibility as a citizen to vote, even knowing that in my state, it might not even be opened unless the margin of victory shows that the absentee ballots could change the outcome. But as I think about our country's two main candidates, even though I don't share the opinions of either one on all the issues, I feel very grateful that there are people of their caliber that are willing and motivated to run for the office of president. Both the campaign and the job itself are exhausting and all-consuming. I don't have any illusions that they are running with no self-interest at all -- I'm sure there's a great measure of ego involved with anyone putting themself forward for that kind of position of power. But I believe that each one is running because they think that they can make our country a better place. I believe that each one is a person of integrity that cares about the citizens of the United States and they want to be in a position to make changes for good in our country. Here in Nigeria, the common belief is that most politicians run for office with the intent of being in a position of power so they can enrich themselves personally. It's clear they often do this through corrupt and illegal means, and the citizens of Nigeria are the ones who lose out. I really don't think that's the motivation of our candidates in the United States. What a great advantage Americans have in being able to choose between two candidates who are people of integrity. Neither will have an easy job of leading a country at this time of financial turmoil, and time will tell how well the new President will manage these challenges. But living in Nigeria where government is so often corrupt and dysfunctional makes me appreciate even more the blessings of being a citizen of the United States. I already know the winner of today's US election: it is America.