Can't Vote, Will Watch
My passport is burgundy, that much should tell you that I can’t vote in an American Presidential election. And yet I’m still drawn into it. Yes, I read the articles and watch the news bulletins because I’m interested in the politics of the whole thing, but there are also some more superfluous reasons why I linger over the international pages of the newspaper and I don’t change the channel when the news comes on:
In some ways it’s kind of necessary to know what’s going on in American politics, not just so that I can be a well-rounded person who knows about international affairs (although it’s always good to be that person) but so that I understand pop culture references. Basically, I want to know about your politics and politicians so that, when they’re the butt of the joke in movies, films and books, I can legitimately laugh along with you, rather than doing the laugh of a person who knows they’re supposed to be laughing but isn’t quite sure why. I don’t want to be the only person on the English speaking internet who doesn’t understand what’s going on when Twitter blows up about ‘binders full of women’.
Beautiful people holding up banners, politicians smiling those Hollywood smiles, confetti falling down from the ceiling at election rallies. These are all things you do not see in elections where I’m from, people would automatically think it was some sort of stunt or sabotage by the other side. Whilst the practical part of me does think ‘Look at all that money falling to the floor’ the little girl in me is saying ‘Look at all that confetti and those balloons. It’s like a Taylor Swift concert!’ and anyone who can make politics more like a Taylor Swift concert is someone I will pay attention to, even if my nationality makes it impossible to vote for them.
Could Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair have happened in any other country? Probably not, because he’s American so why would he talk to empty international chairs? That would just be silly.
It’s not that America is the only place in the world where celebrities endorse candidates. It’s just that, American celebs do it with such fervour and tend to be incredibly famous. And the American election even manages to draw in the best of the international celebs. Last time around, Orlando Bloom phoned up Californian voters to urge them to tick the box for Obama (or punch the chad – I don’t exactly know how it works over there) despite the fact that he’s British. And we all know how much Americans love it when the British force their political views on them.
All the countries of the world are linked. Not in a lovely Coca-Cola advert ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’ kind of way, but in a more serious economics/foreign policy kind of way. If China blows its nose, then Finland could get a cold. There is probably always a better choice of candidate for everyone around the world, but I don’t hold an American passport so I don’t get as angry if the outcome’s not the one I wanted as it doesn’t effect my healthcare or taxes. Although I have my opinions, I’m a little more detached and sometimes the most interesting games, races and matches are the ones where you don’t have a stake in them.
It goes on forever
And if you can’t beat them, join them, right? As the election goes on for so long, it helps to view it as its own new TV drama series and who doesn’t love following a new TV show? Just pretend it’s all written by Aaron Sorkin. ‘On tonight’s ‘Robama’: a gaffe that could ruin one candidate’s chances, an old friend returns to give a helping hand and a love triangle’ okay, so we’ve yet to have a love triangle (and hopefully we won’t) but the whole election process still seems like a TV show. There can be twists and turns – events that you could never have imagined happening occur and because I’m used to 6 week election campaigns this can all get very exciting for me. Yes, there does get to be a point where ‘Robama’ turns into ‘LOST’ and you just want to know what’s going to happen already! But for the most part, the campaigning, primaries, rallies and campaigning again keep you hooked, keep you guessing and give you something to talk about once you’ve finished watching Downton Abbey. And at least with this show it’s impossible to accidentally encounter any spoilers.