Right now, I find myself getting annoyed with the respective candidates speeches and the negative spins associated with them. And after a while it all starts to sound like white noise. But when it gets too much, I have to remind myself why we vote to begin with and why we currently have the system we have. Because despite all of its imperfections, we still find ourselves living in one of the best countries in the world. And during those times when I forget this fact or take it for granted... all I have to do is talk to a few of my friends who live in other parts of the world to remind me of just how lucky I am to be where I am.
For example, if you were living in South Africa right now...your power company
Unfortunately... ESKOM forgets that it was told in 1997 that South Africa was headed for this very serious problem. Not only that..but it was also predicted that if things were not corrected by the year 2007 they would be in crisis. And guess what? It seems that the predictions were correct... because as things stand right now, the people of South Africa are experiencing something called "rolling blackouts". This means that at pretty much any given time during the day their power will be shut off for up to three hours at at a time... and theres not a thing they can do about it
So I naturally have to wonder what the American response would be if they were told the very same thing? Can you even imagine a power company for one of our States telling us we would have to do without power for up to three hours a day, every day? This would pretty much mean no traffic lights. No power for hospitals. No power for schools. No power for grocery stores... and of course plenty of opportunity for crime.
Which brings me to my next point. As a nation we are not without crime, but over all this country is still a relatively safe place to live. Especially when compared to South Africa, which is currently averaging about 55 deaths a day. But dont be fooled- these deaths are not due to accident or illness. These are deaths due to violent crimes such as murder, rape, car jacking or robbery. A sum total that equates to around 20,000 fatalities a year. Which, when you consider the size of South Africa and its population... is disturbing to say the least. Its even more so when you realize that in 2006 the deaths due to crime in South Africa and the deaths due to the war in Iraq were almost equal in number.
So yes, we may not like all the candidates before us in this election. I will even admit that as a rule, third party candidates do not fair as well when it actually comes to winning an election. But in this country if you have a strong enough platform on which you campaign, you can be taken seriously as a potential candidate for the highest office in our government. Our history proves this.
But if you lived in South Africa...thats not neccessarily so. Why? Because democracy there is still in its infancy, so the candidate who is the leader of the dominant political group is pretty much guaranteed to be the next in line for the Presidency, with very little political opposition to stand in his way. Sounds good for the dominant political party, but it is actually a very bad thing for everyone else. Because for South Africa, it means that Jacob Zuma who in December 2007 was elected to lead the African National Congress (the former freedom fighting movement and current ruling party in South Africa) will succeed State President Thabo Mbeki, with very little to stand in his way and prevent him from doing so.
For those of you that don't know, this is the very same Jacob Zuma that before even stepping into Office has already been brought up on charges of rape.
This is the very same Jacob Zuma that admitted to having sex with a house guest- but denied raping the alleged victim whom he knew to be HIV postive at the time. This is the very same Jacob Zuma who was the head of the South African AIDS Council at the time of the alleged rape. The same Jacob Zuma that would later admit to having unprotected sex, and then attempt to justify this by claiming the shower he took after intercourse lessened the likelihood of contracting the deadly disease.
I personally had no idea that a hot shower was enough to prevent the spread of Aids. Apparently Mr Zuma knows something about this we don't.
But it gets better. Mr Zuma is a Zulu. And apparently in Zulu culture, leaving a woman sexually arroused is the equivalent to rape. Zuma stated that he knew the young woman in question wanted sex because she came to his house wearing a skirt and then said goodnight wearing nothing but a "kanga" (a traditional south african full length wrap) . He then claimed in court that "he had to" have unprotected sex the alleged victim due to cultural obligations and duties.
Lucky for South Africa, this fantastic political candidate was aquitted of all charges and was free to sing a song called Lethu Mshini Wami (bring me my machine gun) to the crowd outside.... at least until it was announced that he would be and is currently being investigated for the massive US$5.5 billion arms deal corruption scandal.
Hardly ideal Presidential candidate material is it?
Compared to Jacob Zuma some of our candidates (past and present- heres looking at YOU Bill) are probably looking pretty good right now. And at least we have a more realistic and relative choice. In fact we have so many choices that sometimes its hard to know which choice is the right one for our country.
But admittedly, we are not perfect. And no, our system isnt perfect either. But can you look out into the world and find one that works better? Another one that offers you the same freedoms of choice that ours does? That allows you to have the standard of living we have come to take for granted and enjoy? I dont think so.
So YES, the choices we make when we step into that booth do count. They dont just count for us....they have a ripple effect that can be felt in other places in the world.
Your vote, your decision, your choice is important...
SO CHOOSE WISELY.