Today is it. Today, Americans head to the polls to decide who will be the next President of the United States of America. My Facebook posts yesterday were I guess a little too late. But maybe, maybe it reached one person who was thinking they would rather not spend their Tuesday morning standing in a line.
The first time I was able to exercise my right to vote in the General Elections was in 2012. I was living in South Carolina and I remember the pride I felt for participating. The privilege I felt for having that right and also the fortune for having no doubt that the right was mine, have stuck with me until the 2016 elections. In fact, those feelings have multiplied. Now, I live in Ghana and I made sure I was registered and got my overseas ballot in on time. This time, for the state of Ohio. Living abroad did not detach me from the political situation in the US. Instead, it made it more apparent how important it was to vote.
First, the Philippines, my other country, also had elections this year. Not having been there for the last five years, I was out of the loop on the details of who was who. Rodrigo Duterte won and in the lead up, was being called ‘The Trump of Asia.’ In the first few months of presidency, this man has waged a war on drugs so savage there have been hundreds of vigilante killings. He has insulted world leaders and been so undiplomatic it screams of megalomania. I do not have the right to vote in the Philippines. While that does not make me feel any less Filipino, it certainly reminded me how important it was to vote in the American elections.
Second, 2016 in Ghana is also an election year with people heading to the polls only a month after we do. My counterpart is very much into his politics and works with the people of Macondo very closely to make sure they are registered and get out to vote. Already multiple times President John Mahama has passed by my village, as well as other high ranking figures and the people line the road to cheer them on and make petitions (i.e. GIVE US ELECTRICITY!). This election is particularly exciting to the people of my district as one of the candidates for Vice President is Mamprusi, Mahamadu Bawumia for NPP Vice President. One of the great things about politics in Ghana is they are far from being bipartisan. There are at least four main parties and the country uses the two-round system for presidential elections. Although there have been negative incidents across the country tied to the elections, the general vibe where I am is positive and it definitely kept me interested in the American one.
Third, even Trump thinks Hillary should win…right? When Donald Trump first announced his bid for presidency, I did not take him seriously. And I do not think many did. But he rose in popularity fairly quickly and has been making headlines from the start. Part of me still thinks that this election really is rigged. But not how Trump says it is. In my mind, the only way I can make sense of all the craziness is that Trump is actually all for Hillary. His goal was to sabotage the GOP presidential candidacy but that even he did not think he would make it this far. That is why week after week the things he says or things that surface about him have kept on getting more ludicrous. Trump has been in the limelight for a long time, he knows how to work it. A human being that awful surely cannot exist in this day and age anymore…right? He is just a fantastic actor…right? He is not really this awful…right?
Fourth, maybe my conspiracy theory is wrong but regardless, Americans have to vote. This is history in the making. Whoever wins will say so much about America, who we are and where we are headed. If Hillary wins, America can say to the world ‘I believe in equality in all its manifestations and here I am putting that belief into practice.’ If Trump wins, America is telling the world ‘I am racist, sexist and selfish.’ And I am scared. Scared a man who does not respect or care for me as a young, mixed race, brown woman, will become the next President of the United States of America.
This is why I voted.