Have I mentioned before that many here in Japan are carefully watching the election? It's amazing what my students know from watching the news or reading the newspaper about the candidates. (Though, like myself and many of the people I know in the States, they didn't know either that there were 16 people running for President!!) So much of what goes on in America affects other countries....governments and stock markets, for example (the stock market here in Japan took a beating about a week or so after stocks in America fell drastically. Plus, many of my students have or know people who have money invested in the American stock market...a few sad faces and stories in some of my classes!)
Anyway....as it has come up more than a few times...just for the record...yes, I did vote. It's my right as an American citizen to do so....and if I want to complain about something or someone in the government any time soon or in the future, I can. My grandfather once told me a very long time ago when I was experiencing some negativity feelings towards the US Government (and pretty much all things in general), "You didn't vote? Then don't complain." That kind of stuck with me over the years....so yes, I voted...I'm covering all my bases.
When I sent my request for the ballot to be sent, I must have missed the part to request just the Presidential ballot. Jeez Louise!! When the ballot finally got here, I was in a bit of a panic. The ballot......was 4 pages long!!! Not only did I have the Presidential one, but also all the ones for the state of Colorado...the Senate....the House of Representatives...the State Supreme Court judges....local judges....the amendments (oh, the amendments!!!), and one or two local items, too (commissioners and one about the cemetery)!!!
Well, I can tell you right now.....thank God for the Internet!!! I made a copy of the ballot so I could take notes and I sat out to find out what the amendments were about.
Four hours and about 8 cups of coffee later....I had most of it done. A couple of the issues, even after going to (basically) "Colorado Amendments for Dummies", I still didn't understand what the heck they were saying!!!! I do believe (and I'll be backed up on this I'm sure!!), many of those are written in such a way that the reader will be confused and if said reader has not paid attention to any announcements on TV, radio or in the newspapers and magazines, or has been living in a cave for the past few months, they just might vote in a manner they really didn't want to. Which is why, if I remember correctly, in the last election the state of Colorado voted that it was not okay to shoot a moose in certain areas of the state, but you could discriminate against someone for being white/black/male/female/homosexual/whatever.
Which brought up a good discussion point for a few of my classes.....the question was asked, "Do all Americans know what everything is, on the ballot, that they are voting for?" I told them that I couldn't give them specific numbers as to how many idiots there are out there, but, I would guess that the number of people who just go in and vote and don't really read the ballot carefully is probably higher than what we could ever imagine. And this is why there are commercials...and pop-ups...and billboards....and signs in people's yards (that sometimes get stolen by the opposition)...and any other way possible to get the information out there so that people know what is going on.
This is very different from voting in Japan. Here, people vote for a party or a person and then rely on that person to vote for changes or whatever that will affect the people. Japanese really only have say in who makes the decisions and must hope that the person who is in office will keep the people's best interests in mind whenever something comes up that needs to be voted on. Plus...when it comes to the Prime Minister....I must admit that I don't really understand how a Prime Minister is elected into office. I do know that Mr. Koizumi (the PM that loved Elvis and had some wild hair!) was the Prime Minister for quite a while. There was a time when, I swear, we had a new guy in office every time you turned around. I'm thinking that it's not a fun or good job to have....but, that's just me...what the heck do I know, huh?
Anyway....I got the ballot all filled out...signed in all the correct places and I put it in a special envelope to make sure that it got there before the election and could be counted. It's not that I don't trust the American Postal Service (some of my most favorite people **Hi, Sally** work for the Post Office and I'm not disrespecting those people) but....a letter from Japan has been known to take 5-18 days to get to my hometown. I just didn't want to take any chances. This was too important!So I stuck it in a 1,200 yen (about $12) special envelope and sent it on its way. It got there safe and sound and made pretty good time, too. It took about 5 days. And how do I know this? Well, this is where coming from a small town comes in handy. Because the envelope was pretty big, I decided to send a letter to my good friend, who just happens to be the County Treasurer, whose office just so happens to be at the Court House...so...I wrote her a quick letter, wrote "Please give this to Susan." on it and popped it into the envelope with the ballot. She sent me a message saying that she had received the letter and really liked the card (Yeah, Very Mary!!).
Yeah...I'm thinking that not many people could do that. Sometimes it does pay to know pretty much everyone who lives in a place, or most everyone who works at the County Court House, anyway!!!
So...if you haven't voted...get out there and get it done!!! It is now 12:40 AM and I'm going to check the news and see how things are going and then I'm going to bed. Will say a prayer for good things to happen in the hours to come.