Tuesday, January 20, 2004

My Election Experiences Around The World

I'm so excited about being in America during Elections 2004. I'm not an American, but I get to experience a new kind of election unique to America. The world's eyes are focused here. I was in Australia during Elections 2000. It was fun. I was dating my husband at the time. So, my information came from the Australian media and my husband.

I guess I should talk first about my Iraqi elections experience. In 1984, Iraq held it's second National Assembly elections. These elections were similar to voting for House of Representatives in America. I was 18 years old at the time, so I was eligible to vote. Whether I wanted to vote or not, I had to go and vote. To be honest, I had no problem doing it since a few of the people running for the National Assembly were popular in Basrah. They were simple, nice people. My all-time voting strategy is: If you don't like any of the nominees, vote for the most handsome and educated person. It may not be the right strategy, but it works for me. What was the National Assembly purpose? I have no idea. Probably saying yes for everything Saddam would come up with, from invading Kuwait -- after he completed his invasion, of course -- to sending us to hell.

After I moved to Australia and became an Australian citizen, I started to vote for all kinds of elections, from local council elections to national government elections. Voting is compulsory in Australia. If you don't vote, you receive a letter by mail advising you to pay a specific amount of money for failing to show up at election centers on election day. Once, I missed the local council election and had to pay more than $70. How would you know of the election if there was no advertising in your local area? This DID shut down my appetite for free voting. It became just like my Iraqi voting experience.

Here I am in America for Elections 2004. I'm so happy to witness how the two major parties are running their peaceful campaigns. I'm sure it took America many years to get to this high level of democracy. You Americans rock. It's fun to watch the whole process as a non-American (outsider). Being a news junkie as I am, I watched the Iowa caucuses from the time I woke up yesterday. I learned how caucuses work. Cool process, Iraqis may actually like to try it.

For a person like me who never experienced democratic elections in Iraq, it's so nice to experience it from Dallas, Texas. For me, its not about which party would run America in one year's time, it's about the democratic process in electing the next American President.

The Iowa caucuses taught me something today. America is about being positive. You can't win votes if you are negative about everything happening around you. That's not the American way.

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