Americans love the idea of democracy, and argue all the time about what that democracy should look like.
This election gives us a chance to settle the argument, for at least four years, about our vision of America. I welcome the clear choice before us, as the imperative to change course is stark.
The mortgage meltdown and its impact on ordinary Americans and the global economy have dominated the news for weeks. But as bad as the economic crisis is, the Republican legacy does not end there. Two wars are bankrupting our country without making anyone safer. The energy crisis starts with prices at the gas pump and could end with the destruction of our planet. The outgoing administration has trampled on our Constitution, conveyed to the rest of the world that we are a go-it-alone superpower, and withdrawn from leadership on the global issues that desperately need the political will that only the United States is in a position to exert.
Yet somehow, despite these grave challenges and the fact that the majority of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, there is tremendous excitement in the air. Casual conversations inevitably turn to the elections. Political email traffic is on overdrive. Voters are already going early to the polls in 32 states, and in record numbers.
Might we call this hope?
Here in India, volunteers in six cities are pouring their enthusiasm into the campaign. They have organised events and virtual outreach to assist fellow American citizens to vote from abroad. They’ve hosted political discussions, screened presidential debates to raucous crowds, and made phone calls to Americans residing in India to remind them how to vote by absentee ballot. What is happening in India is a small window into what is occurring in communities across the American landscape.
Might we call this a yes-we-can spirit?
In the end, politics in a democracy is about people, about each individual’s right to vote. It’s about someone deciding that taking action in the public arena is worthwhile. A couple more people daring to believe, against the odds, that we can change our country. And more and more people deciding to take action.
We do not yet know the outcome of the election. What we do know is that Barack Obama has helped the United States rediscover that democracy is about the power of individuals to participate. Win or lose, this has been a transformational moment in what was becoming a cynical democracy – and it’s a lesson my country will need to navigate the future. We, the people — yes we can!
(Carolyn Sauvage-Mar is Chair, Democrats Abroad-India.)
7 months ago