As an expat, one gets used to being the de facto translator for cultural or national matters, on everything from who in the world would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to what people do on Thanksgiving. But during election season, the questions fly thick and fast. Trying to explain the electoral college to people who vote ‘first past the post’ reminds me of when my nieces were toddlers, only with much smarter ‘Why?’ questions. I’ll be watching the results tonight with 2 Brits, and will be no doubt answering more questions along the way, but more along the lines of “Why do people need such gaudy graphics to explain a map?” (for which I will have no answer). But the largest question I’ve received in the last few days is always along the lines of “Are you glad it’s over?”. And of course, I am. But the thing is, it’s not.
See, when you elect someone, you can’t just close your eyes for the next 2-4-6 years, and then open them again in the next voting booth. You have to watch, carefully, as to what the person does. You have to muck through the partisan bullshit, and learn how to research primary sources, to see if what you’re being spun is actually the truth. You have to question, every time, and you have to weigh the good of a candidate against the bad, and see how much of your soul you can sell in the process to vote for them again. It’s a particularly laborious process, and one I’m actually quite tired of. This campaign has been one of the worst for lying (or as the Romney campaigner said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers”. Barf). It’s also been the most expensive in history, with billions raised or infused through anonymous SuperPACs, which has in no way shape or form injected a lick of decency or truth in the national discourse.
So yes, I’m happy it’s almost over. But no, I’m not happy that the work actually starts now.