Today I went to the offices of democrats abroad to cast my absentee ballot. Those running the booth are, naturally, volunteers. So when I saw the topic for today’s daily post, I thought it was quite timely.
Volunteering is good in the sense it connects you with other like minded people.
I entered the cafe and was instructed to go to the 2nd floor. There, in the back, was a woman on her macbook pro, handling all the administrative paperwork. Besides her was a black bulky printer supplied by the democratic party.
I sat down and two hours and a lot of confusion later I had cast my ballot. At least, I think I had, considering that the volunteers seemed to have just as much information as I did concerning the ballots.
Now I am a bit disillusioned with the whole process. Not that I was extremely gungho about our country’s political system before, but it just seemed that no one really knew what was going on at The Bridge Cafe.
As I sat at the table and filled in form after form of bureaucratic necessities I endured a constant barrage of pro-democratic speech. That is the catch when the polling offices abroad are controlled by the democrats.
I don’t begrudge them this. Republicans seem to go out of their way to discount the vote abroad. If they cared a little bit more, then perhaps we all wouldn’t be presented with such a one sided corner of the The Bridge Cafe.
Not that those living abroad make up a large percentage of the voting population.
In some ways it just gives the democrats a better name. They care what we have to say. And, if you think about this long term, most of us will not be staying abroad forever. It is a great marketing tactic.
In truth, I actually want to vote republican. Historically, to be a republican simply meant you supported less government and more individual autonomy. I’m from New Hampshire. Live free or die.
But, Donald Trump, really? How am I suppose to vote for a person like him.
For a time I did entertain the idea of voting for Trump. He was a white man, like myself, and good in business. Two things that I can get behind. However, when I tuned into the presidential debates and saw the way he handled himself, constantly undermining the questions and going for the cheap laughs, I couldn’t help but feel disgusted.
How could anyone vote for a person like that.
I know that it’s too late to join the democrats abroad group now, but I will say that my loose affiliation in the group has given me inspiration to become more politically active in the future.
Those that volunteer in the group seem to have a purpose. They are connected under the banner of a common cause. That fosters good friendships. Moreover, political thought and strategy is intellectually satisfying, so it’s also a good way to flex your brain.
Politics is such a big topic.
I often wonder if my time spent in China is a big reason for the recent spike in my political interest. In China, I see how a radically different political system helps to shape the country. Those successful in politics have a lot of power because they can dictate organizational policies. This, in turn, directly and indirectly affects the people.
Mao Zedong, for example, was not a business leader. He was a military tactician and political thought leader. Sure, there are many bad things we could say about him, but the way in which he affected such strong change throughout the country was through political mastery. If nothing else, Mao shows how politics can affect change.
Then there is Deng Xiaoping. While he was much more business oriented than Mao, he was still a politician first and used politics as the engine to affect economic change.
Fast forward to Xi Jing Ping today. A political leader that is focused on reforms within his own party and the country at large. Today, he has more issues to contend with then previous leaders due to the economy’s success, however these decisions still hold enormous weight on the future of the country.
Politics, in a way, is the method of using thoughts to guide groups of people. Political parties form to support specific lines of thinking and accordingly push their agenda forward.
So, volunteering for a political party is not only very important, but also very practical. If you align yourself with a party that you truly believe in then you will increase the strength of your social network, you will help shape policy, and furthermore engage your brain in a intellectual pursuit worthy of your time.
All of my friends know that I am notoriously noncommittal in political affairs. In the past I have always considered them out of my control and a distraction.
Normally, my line of thinking was “Who cares about the president? I have never met him and never will so what’s the point of getting involved in all of this stuff anyways.”.
Most of my friends are passionate democrats. That’s probably because I live abroad. They like to talk about Hillary and their party, but whenever the conversation comes up I like to tell them that I am voting for Trump. That’s mostly to get a reaction. And of course it works. I don’t actually care.
But seeing the volunteers this afternoon, sitting in a dingy corner in the back of the The Bridge Cafe in Wudaokou, a new, slightly foreign feeling came to me. Maybe all of this stuff does actually matter.
Even if I never meet the president, believing in an idea bigger than myself and belonging to a group that shares this belief can be one of the most rewarding things that you do in life. At least, that is what people tell me.
Maybe these volunteers are doing something right…