In the US election of course – I never ran for office in China. I’m not a citizen. And I think the ballot actually got lost in the mail – but it’s always more fun to speculate that someone else could have voted for me.
It was the year that John Kerry and George W. Bush were on the ballot. The truth is – I had forgotten that there was even an election that year until I went home during the summer from China. Then the election posters were everywhere, with radio casters and talk show hosts reminding us that it was the “most important election ever.”
I signed up to vote absentee, felt good about having done my civic duty, then went back to China and promptly forgot about the election all over again.
It wasn’t until about a week before the election when I was in a conversation with some other Americans teaching in China that they mentioned the election (they were arguing about who to vote for) that I realized the ballot had never made it to me.
Of course- I have to confess – at the time I had a secret hatred of the post office (one that incidentally continued the whole four years I lived in China). While I had learned to successfully navigate the complexities of bartering in the market, restaurants, street venders, train tickets etc. the post office was still my nemesis and at the time I visited it about once a month – and usually only then if I knew something was supposed to be coming.
I went to the Post Office after the conversation. No ballot. I had a frustrating conversation with the employees who eventually agreed to go look through the mail in the back to see of they had missed something. He came back a couple minutes later claiming there was nothing.
At the time, I figured the employee had probably not looked, but likely gone and gotten a drink of water or something and claimed to have looked. (I was rather cynical about the Post Office remember!) But I figured it was useless to press it. I would just come back a couple days later and see if it had come in.
The result was the same. Nothing.
At this point, due to Texas regulations at the time, there was nothing more that could be done. I jokingly asked the other American teachers who they thought China had voted for.
The answers were actually funny – because it caused quite a discussion. My friend who was more of a Democrat said China would have voted for Bush – because of the factories and outsourcing – business, which was, you know, friendly with Communism. My friend who was a Republican claimed Kerry – because Kerry was a Socialist which led to, you know, Communism. Now, for the record, this conversation was all a joke – because when you are the only Americans in a radius, you just learn to get along, and ignore things like politics (or like I did – forget them entirely because you know, what was happening in America then apparently wasn’t that interesting……. I have no excuse – I know!)
My guess is my ballot was lost in the mail, and honestly – I had such little knowledge of what was happening in my own country at the time that it was probably a good thing. I am not sure at the time I could have correctly named the governor of Texas. It’s usually not wise to vote for people if you have no idea who they are!
Bush won the election, and four years later there was another election that was the most important one ever. Eight years later, there was yet another “most important election ever.” While I voted in both of those – I learned something important in the election that I didn’t vote in.
I learned that both sides will get way off topic and each accuse the other of being the most Communist. Maybe the two sides have more in common than we think?
I guess the moral of the story is know when the elections are, register and know who is running. Also know if the person that you chose doesn’t get in, there will always be another “most important election ever” that you can vote in next time.