Arguably, countless eyes around the globe are gaping at one country and its upcoming presidential election. Some non-Americans are taking sides â€“ rooting for Barack Obama or John McCain. Others are just questioning the definition of democracy.
From India, Satyajit writes in his blog, Ragamuffin that the U.S. is â€œthe land of premature eclapulation.â€ He defines â€œpremature eclapulationâ€ as â€œthe process of clapping, during events such as plays, operas, and orchestral performances when the climax of the moment or the moment most appropriate for ovation has not yet been reached.â€ He speaks about the idea of the Electoral College and questions the democracy that the U.S. speaks so highly of.
“Rather than directly voting for the President and Vice President, U.S. citizens cast votes for electoral college representatives, known as electors. While electors are theoretically free to vote for the candidate of their choice, in practice they pledge to vote for specific candidates. ha ha. Have you heard of anything funnier in a democracy?â€
For another non-American, the issue of democracy hit closer to home. Elen Ghulam, an Iraqi now living in Canada, writes in her blog, Ihath, about a time when her family was democratic.
â€œSince we were growing up in an undemocratic country my father decided that he would teach us about democracy by instating it in our family. â€œWe are a democratic familyâ€, my father declared with pride one day. Every Thursday evening, the family central council would meet to discuss issues set in the agenda. Each member of the council could speak up about his/her opinion on a given matter and after each person made his or her arguments, the council would vote. That is how we decided on family vacations, which restaurant to have lunch at on the weekend and family purchases. Over time a clear balance of power emerged. There was the party of the kids and the party of the parents. It seemed that my brother and I always voted the same way and my mother and father voted together. This young democratic experiment was a happy one â€¦â€¦ well only for a little while. Historically, transition to democracy is frequently associated with political and social upheaval and the transition from monarchy and feudalism to giving power to the common person is fraught with difficulty. Our family was not above the tragedy of the human history.â€
Ghulam then goes on to write about the time, her family suddenly became â€œundemocratic.â€ She writes about how, as a child, her and her sibling wanted a dog but her father refused and stated that as the â€œbread-winner of the house holdâ€ he had the ultimate power.
â€œFrom then on, we called my fatherâ€™s democracy the one-legged democracy. A democracy where the little people got to decide on matters of little consequence but got ignored on the really important issues.â€
Whether the U.S. is a true democracy or simply a country where â€œlittle peopleâ€ decide on inconsequential issues, will be determined in a few short months.