Ready, steady, go! That is how elections occur back home. I remember the day when news came out that Latvia’s new president is a woman politician in the parliament Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. I had never heard of her, and neither had the majority of Latvians. However, she turned out to be the best thing that even happened to Latvia and its people for a long time…
During her time as the President, Freiberga’s approval rating ranged between 70% and 85%, securing her place as very popular among Latvians. In 2003 she was re-elected for a second term of four years with 88 votes out of 96. These number among other things, including a huge flower crown dedicated to the President from the flowers or money dedicated to purchase flowers sent by people from all around the country, should show her popularity among the Latvians.
U.S. elections have been a topic floating around for what feels like an eternity. I am a little tired of the buzz. At the beginning of the year, I decided to get myself more ‘invested’ in the country that is offering me a truly great education which I am grateful for. I thought it was a neat and respectful way of expressing my gratitude and paying off some of the ‘debt’. I wanted to be seen as a genuinely inquisitive citizen who wishes to know what is going on in the fight for the White House without actually being American. Yet, I failed.
After couple of weeks of wishing and hoping that the end would come soon when it was nowhere in sight, I felt so exhausted that I stopped paying attention. Mainly because I cannot understand the extreme exaggeration of the process. I am in no way trying to deny the importance of elections and furthermore the involvement of the civil society (Americans, in this case) in since the consequences of who gets eleceted will affec the coutnry in political, economical and social terms. What I cannot comprehend is the extreme length of the process. It is unbelievable that after such long time persuading, convincing and campaigning there is still a large number of people who do not know where their vote will go. And the elections are in couple of days.
I have watched all the presidential debates, at least partly. I have listened to the speeches and heard my peers talk about the elections. The candidates seem to mentioning the same things over and over again. From taxes, to health care, to education, to changes in foreign policy…Not that these aren’t important things. Yet mentioning them 70 times over will not get them done. Or get people convinced that one can do them. I wonder whether all the money, time and other resources spent on these campaigns which essentially portray the same things over and over in the TV, media and newspapers is actually a necessary thing to do. It wasn’t for Latvia, and it worked out just fine. Granted, it is a country of only 2.3 million, but the issues and concerns of Latvians are similar.
The elections are soon to be over. I know there is a lot of anxiety in the air. Whispers of fear that McCain could be elected and loud cheers for Obama are floating around this campus, as I’m sure many others around the country. I just hope that one day, Americans will be able to say –I am really proud of my president! Just like me and majority of my country mates said about Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga throughout her time as the President of Latvia.
 Courtesy of Wikipedia, 30/10/2008