So, like most folks that I know, I paid a modicum of attention the US Election yesterday. In my case this meant reading some Facebook and Twitter before relaxing with some udon noodle soup and some yam tempura (from Kyoto which I had purchased to help deal with my frustrating day at work which was fine, really, until I had a horrible coughing/wheezing fit with no known cause) and watching All-Star Superman (an animated movie I had won in a contest a couple years ago, but which I hadn't yet watched). After the movie I returned to social media, which sent me to various news feed sites and otherwise to watch the election unfold.
And there was a number of things that I learned:
– that it took a whole long time for the election concession speech to happen
– that election results can be called rather early on
– that math is helpful
– that some won and some lost but moving forward we still have Obama as president of the USA and there are a few new folks in the government who happen to also be firsts.
– that as per usual the news source has a lot to do with what news one might hear about the election
– that some Kiwanians were running for various offices in various states
But it wasn't until this morning that I heard more…
– some referenda mean that pot is legal in a couple states, and that gay marriage won in 4? states (at the time that I went to bed, these were hypothesized to be the case, but confirmed for me this morning).
– that the media isn't telling the whole story — it took the BBC to write a story about the fact that Puerto Rico voted to become a full-fledged state (which may someday mean that the USA will have 51 states!).
– some Kiwanians were elected into various offices in the United States.
Some think this election was uniformly frightening, positive, negative, or broken. Some focus on the entertainment value, or on how it might immediately affect personal lives (or not). Some focus on how it might change the history books, or the fact that global warming, women's rights, etc. got attention and things like the Patriot Act, Foreign Affairs, and other topics may not have.
But really, I think of the significance of the whole thing. I think of the fact that a whole new segment of the population (often the CKIers I interact with from the USA for example) got to vote. I think of the fact that we as non-Americans get to see this event in a very different light, through different means than Americans do themselves. I think of the role that social media played in this election — the fact that most of the info I got, from my republican, democrat, American, or non-American, etc. friends came through this medium. I think of Marshall McLuhan and what he would have thought of this… (okay I think of that now, but it came up last night too)…
And I also think of all those who struggled to vote be it through long lines, power outages, grief over loss from natural disasters, or otherwise. I think of all that still remains to be done, whether I like it or not. And I think of the loaded term that is progress, positive or negative.