Illustration by the Jose Gamboa
The recently completed 2012 US Elections resulted with Barack Obama being re-elected as President of the United States of America. It was a very close race, with the Hispanic minority being given credit for shifting the tides in the incumbent’s favor. There are a lot of things that impressed me about the US electoral process. Here are the top five.
5. The results were released ONE DAY after balloting.
Yes, that’s right. One day. For such a thing to happen in the Philippines would be considered nothing short of a miracle. The 2012 US Presidential elections had such comprehensive state to state reports and by-the-minute updates that even before the official count had been released, everyone already knew the outcome for certain.
Old school. Image source
4. The grace with which the loser accepted defeat, and the humility with which the winner accepted victory
Once it became apparent that he wasn’t going to be elected, Governor Mitt Romney called up President elect Barack Obama to congratulate him. This was before the official count had been released. This is sportsmanlike behavior in the face of losing fair and square. In the Philippines, upon failing on their election bid, candidates are known to sulk, have emotional outbursts, contest the results (sometimes with good reason), and to do what they can to hinder the smooth transition to the new administration. Romney called on his supporters to get behind the re-elected leader, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
3. The American People
If this were in Manila, there’d be monobloc chairs all over the place. Image source
Now I’m not just saying this because they re-elected Barack Obama. They also re-elected George W. Bush. But clearly, they’ve paid the price for their follies and are going through their share of challenges. Engaged in an unbelievably costly over-a-decade-long war in the Middle East, still convalescing from subprime and fiscal crises, struggling with unemployment, health care, their public education system, and not to mention being derided by certain Europeans for their cinema and diet (just to start with)…these are just some of the challenges facing what was once considered (and many still believe to be) the Greatest Nation on Earth. Nonetheless, hearing about the voter turnout at the 2012 US Presidential Elections–especially in New York where certain areas still had no power because of the recent storm–and the people who volunteered during the campaign period, witnessing the crowds of people both outdoors and indoors, staying up until two in the morning to hear the results on the news; all these and more showed that Americans are not without hope. And their optimism is backed up with hard work. In the Philippines, more people would rather complain rather than do something constructive about issues that they claim matter to them. I’m actually one of those people on many occasions.
Despite the power outages due to Hurricane Sandy, voters in New York cast their ballots source
2. The intelligence of the candidates
Now I confess I didn’t watch all the 2012 US presidential debates, I have much more important things to do like creating lists, however, just the few clips that I saw showed that Governor Mitt Romney, whom I’ve not seen hide nor hair of until this election came around, was very well-versed in the issues, and raised valid points and stayed on topic. Compared to previous Republican candidates, Romney looked to be quite well-suited to the job, had things turned out differently. Sure, sources say there were agreements made prior to the debate that limited spontaneous behavior, and Obama seemed to be less eloquent than usual in the first debate, and they did quibble here and there on the ever-sensitive War in the Middle East issue, but still, they both showed that they had studied the issues and laid out their plans for dealing with them clearly, systematically, without mudslinging or getting emotional. They save that for after they’ve left office.
When it’s election season in the Philippines, the intellectual level of the general public is lowered even further by the aspirants through the media so that they can be more easily swayed. Candidates whose only qualifications are being athletic, having been on television and the movies, or having lots of money, do song and dance numbers with local celebrities, campaign posters of people with amazing hair are plastered on any surface such as electrical posts, vehicles, and construction site fences, and cheesy campaign ads and jingles blare constantly on television, radio, and mobile loudspeakers. Even the churches get in on the action, with priests, pastors, ministers, and cult leaders extolling the virtues of their candidate of choice. Come election day, people troop to their designated precincts and fill out a ballot form that resembles a school examination paper. There are so many political parties and candidates to choose from that the citizen usually just ticks the boxes to get things over with. Doing one’s civic duty has become a mindless activity.
Such amazing hair! Image source
By the way, if you’ve not seen Bad Lip Reading’s Eye of the Sparrow, watch it now.
1. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech
Image source: USAToday
There’s a reason why there’s a book on public speaking titled Say It Like Obama: The Power of Speaking with Purpose and Vision: The man is one of the most gifted orators I’ve ever listened to…I mean, can this man deliver a speech or what? True, his campaign manager David Axelrod and his crack team of speechwriters probably wrote it all for him, but still, you can give anyone the fastest race car in the world, but if he doesn’t know how to drive then there’s going to be a crash. And like all skills, his gift for public speaking is not inborn. Barack Obama honed his oratory skills for years as a community organizer and lawyer, meeting all sorts of people and speaking first to small groups in schools and town halls. So when Barack Obama walked out at around 2 in the morning before thousands of people in his hometown of Chicago, with First Lady Michelle Obama and his daughters Sasha and Malia to the accompaniment of Stevie Wonder’s Signed Sealed Delivered, to accept his second term as Chief Executive, it is no surprise that despite going through a grueling campaign schedule he was still able to deliver another powerful and stirring speech.