US Elections, ads and memories

Vote today if you can.? Watch even if you cannot. For the results will not only tell us who will be, arguably, the most powerful person on earth, they will also tell us a lot about the US.? The demographics will tell us about how the US is thinking, and how it has changed over the last few years, and that will impact a lot of things from immigration laws to the world economy.

For those of us in the US who have been reminded of the elections every day during the last year and a half, every time we switched on the television, read a newspaper or answered the landline, today will be a climactic end, or it will be an anti-climax, depending on whom we support. Half of the US is going to be disappointed with the results, irrespective of which candidate wins.

I can offer my own anecdotal evidence of why I think voter turnout is going to be high and people are very invested in this election. At the beginning of the campaign, I had a lot of visitors who had landed on this post after searching for “how to sell my vote” or something similar. I would feel sorry for them, given that the post is not about selling one’s vote, or even about US elections. But for the last few months, I have noticed that no one searches online for methods of selling their vote anymore. I’m assuming this means no one wants to sell their vote anymore, but who knows, perhaps it means that everyone who wants to has already figured out how to sell their vote to the highest bidder 😉

I am confident I will be completely unproductive today, as will millions of others.?I still do not understand why they do not make election day a holiday in the US, as they do in India.? More so when voting times stretch into hours. I will also stay up until late night to watch the results come in. Election results always remind me of the time when I would walk down to the big board outside the Hindustan Times building in Connaught Place and watch the latest Lok Sabha election results. You are right, that was in the days when no mainstream Indian newspaper had an internet presence.

Much more recent is the memory of waking up in the middle of the night to check NYTimes and find that Ohio’s results had all come in and Kerry had lost. There are other memories, and I am not even going into the hanging chads and butterfly ballots.

At the beginning of the day, Pollster was predicting a landslide for Obama – winning 311 electoral college votes (against the 270 required), Mccain winning 142 and the remaining 85 being a toss-up. This map will change during the day:

If, like me, you find yourself checking back repeatedly to see how the map changes, here are a few hilarious ads to take your mind off the results 🙂

An Obama ad that’s a hilarious take-off on Bud’s famous “Wassup” ad series:

A beautiful song to the tune of “Don’t cry for me, Argentina” sung by a self-professed Hockey mama who doesn’t seem to like Sarah Palin very much:

And finally, John McCain’s appearance last weekend on Saturday Night Live, if you haven’t seen it already. I wish we had seen more of this version of McCain during the campaign. Things might have been very different for McCain then – the McCain I saw on SNL is so much more likeable than the one we saw on the campaign trail.

Whichever candidate wins, this election is going to make history for many reasons. This election has evoked strong emotions in many people, including in many of us who cannot even vote.

In the end, I do not know if I am going to be happy or disappointed. I do know, though, that I will be very relieved it’s finally over!

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19 thoughts on “US Elections, ads and memories

  1. Americans, pls go out and vote today and please choose a decent guy who in your judgment will do good to the world. If you want, on your way back do stop by at Starbucks for a coffee.

    Oh yes, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, Krispy Kreme – there’s a whole lot of them. Lifehacker and Slickdeals have long lists of freebies 🙂

  2. @ Lekhni

    Interesting post. Politicians often tend to forget that even if half their constituents did not vote for them, it is their duty, as elected officials, to represent and protect the interests of those constituents. The delta is often to be settled through negotiation which is the foundation of all politics. I think in a bipartite democracy – well, bipartite for all intents and purposes – such as the USA, this negotiation is bound to be more stark and polarised than in multipartite democracies such as India where a multitude of positions are in the mix.

    I had blogged about the Freakonomics point you mention I still get many hits with search strings such as ‘what is the value of my vote’, ‘does it matter if I vote’. My belief is that economics, especially utilitarianism, does not explain democracy very well. The post generated some interesting discussion where people confuse natural rights with constitutional rights with assumed rights and the tenuous links between them all. If you like, you can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/5t7yts

    I agree 🙂 Read your post too, and I notice that the $1 million for a vote is a very popular option 😉

  3. @ Lekhni

    Forgot to say that a film called ‘Recount’ was on TV the other day. It was about the Gore-Bush contest and the legal fray that ensued. Pretty good.

    Should be interesting. I wish they’d show stuff like that here.

  4. Even I will be happy it’s over and I don’t even live in the US…

    It’s sad at so many levels that while the world is interested in everything that happens in the US, Americans themselves are so incurious about most countries, and have not heard of many of them 😦

  5. I am deeply worried about the sudden loss of traffic to 538. Where will all that traffic go?

    I have been wondering too – and polling R to find out 😉 I wonder what he’ll do now?

  6. I’ve been up since 3 AM. I love elections and politics and its been only 8 months since I’ve come to the US and started following the elections. There. I love every min of it 🙂

    I should write a post on this too!

    I was awake at 4:30 am too, but I am blaming it more on Daylight Savings Time ending – my body clock is still in DST 😦

  7. I’ve never shown this much of interest in any American election until now! I t truly is interesting and entertaining at the same time.

    Lucky you, I get an old season of SNL here on VH1 (which started airing it recently at mid-night)

    😦

    It’s entertaining for sure 🙂 Btw, you can watch full episodes of all SNLs (definitely the recent ones, I don’t know how deep their archives are) on NBC’s website!

  8. @ Lekhni

    I think you might get the DVD. It is an HBO film featuring Kevin Spacey, John Hurt and Laura Dern (she as a narcissistic-bordering-on-stupid Katherine Harris). It was a short film but interesting for being like a documentary in its detail.

  9. I second your sentiment – this has been an exciting election campaign, but it seems to have gone on for ever and I’ll be glad when it’s over. I’ve witnessed many bitter fights and arguments, even saw a friendship or two break up over who is voting for whom, and can’t wait till we return to “normalcy”.
    I know who I’ll be voting for, but I certainly do not think that those who vote for the other candidate are “idiots” or “morons”, terms I’ve often far too often lately.

  10. I’ll be relieved when this is all over too. I can finally move away from clicking on electoral-vote.com, pollster.com, 538, realclearpolitics etc. and actually get back to cleaning and decluttering around the house and the yard!

  11. Thanks for the post. I share the same sentiments and your take on the direction of the US election. As a professional and unable to cast a vote, it’s been an emotional and stressful experience following the US election coverage. Watching and reading bickering opinions between candidates has been overwhelming. May the best wins and stabilizes the US economy in the long run, thus eventually reclaiming US position in the eye of the world. I wish for him to win, I hope he will.

  12. I have been following the elections too…but I got the news of Obama’s victory when I heard fireworks here (no, ofcourse Im not in the States! :D)

  13. So Obama did it. Well it seems like the history is repeating once again. The republicans destroyed the country and the democrats have to fix it now. Anyway I don’t believe that Obama will be the most powerfull man on earth/ the president of the USA is not.

  14. well the grumpy grandfather guy didn’t make it after all.

    My earliest memories of the elections were Pranoy roy playing the numbers and plotting them on an india map on Doordarshan!

    Psephologists are treated with far more respect these days in the desh!

  15. I understand people in India being interested in the US elections, because the US defines so much of what we do these days. But when I saw two of my friends in India discuss the merits and demerits of Obama’s healthcare plan, I couldn’t help wonder, “Why the fuck are you concerned?” I mean, these are two guys who aren’t even vaguely aware of the NREGA. But they can argue out Obama’s healthcare plan!

    My theory is that there’s so little debate in our democracy on any issues (apart from which community gets sops this election), that people here salivate at the thought of debate, meaningful or otherwise…

    (And I must ask you to excuse this bad framing of thoughts and sentences. Its too much pressure with this 5 minute clock ticking away!)

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