Yesterday, for us in the UK anyway, (it must still be "today" in America right??) a little event which you may have heard mentioned in recent weeks took place. The US voted for their President for the next four years. Being a student of Politics A-level, and also generally someone who likes to talk about what's going on, I haven't really shut up about if for the last couple of days. (My friends, family and anyone else who's had to spend time with me will testify to this.)
I won't insult anyone by talking about the candidates or some of their (controversial... I'm looking at you Mitt Romney) views and policies, because frankly, if you're from the US you're probably, like this little girl, sick to the back teeth of hearing about them and if you don't know what I'm talking about you've clearly had your head in the sand for a very long time and this post probably isn't going to make much sense to you.
But, I don't want to let this oppurtunity to share my thoughts on such a huge world event pass. Things like this are why I love writing, why I want to be a journalist. I've loved hearing people talking about politics, being involved, caring about what's going on. I've loved arguing in politics classes about who has the best policies for America, reading people's thoughts on twitter from all around the world and just realising how many people there are who want a better future for everyone and are prepared to go out and stand in line to cast their vote on that ballot paper. So many people have been closely following every twist and turn of the past few weeks, and then days, and then hours. Everyone, from the couple I babysat for last night to the customers I've been serving seasonal Halloween cupcakes to at work to most of my sixth form (who says teenagers don't care about politics??) had an opinion on it. Some people even sat up to 2:30 am to see who won in Ohio. This does affect the rest of the world and we do care.
Thank you America, for making the right decision.
I don't have the same feeling I did four years ago. I remember being twelve years old, at home with my family to watch Barack Obama make his victory address and feeling that I was watching history happening. I felt that even though I was a little girl on the other side of the world I was involved, I was there and this was something amazing. It really opened my eyes to the importance of politics in all of our lives and I think it played a part in setting me on the path that I'm on.
This year, I felt very different. I'm four years older, hopefully wiser and definitely more cynical. My hair is longer and my dad isn't with us any more. I agree with the feeling that this year was less of a "Yes We Can" and more of a sigh of relief. However, despite all of these changes, I'm finding myself just as inspired by the election this time around as well. Waking up this morning, the first thing I wanted to do when I jumped out of bed was find out who had got those crucial 270 electoral college votes and would be the President of the USA. But before I even had a chance to turn on the radio, my mum knocked on my door before bursting in to shout "Jess, Obama won!!" She looked really thoughtful then and I could tell she was thinking about how different our lives were four years ago too.
Weirdly, today has also been the day that three years ago exactly, I lost my dad. But strangely, I've actually been really happy. Thinking about how thrilled he would be about the election result, how proud he would be of me and my little sister and probably how many arguments we would be having about politics. I thought of writing a post today to talk about my experience of his illness and death but I decided that's a subject for another day. Today is a time to remember my wonderful dad. It's also a day to high five one of my best friends in our genuine excitement, look forward to emailing my aunty in New York to discuss it all with her and time to write and reflect on everything that's changed in my life.
It may be different this year. There may be more disappointment in Obama than excitement for what he's going to change. But four years is a long time and anything could happen. The world will be a very different place by the time this day rolls around again and by that time so much will have changed. China will have overtaken the US in economic strength, Britain will have voted in new leaders as well, and no one has any way of knowing who or what we will be fighting for or against. I hope Barack Obama gets the chance to change things for the better in America and whether you voted for him or not, I hope you have positive expectations for the next Presidential term. Maybe you'll be celebrating or drowning your sorrows, if so console yourself with the fact that it's only four more years and he won't be able to run again after that!
I know it's not always a good idea to share your political views and I understand if you don't want to read this or even if you decide not to follow this blog anymore but this is a post that was very important to me to write so I hope you can give it a chance. If not, it doesn't matter because of this wonderful thing called free speech. I love free speech and I hope any Republicans I may have offended in any way don't now hate me too much. In other words, this:
are all I have to say to you.
I did mean for this to be a mostly political post, but writing this the two meanings for me of today became interlinked. Neither one was more important than the other and in two ways I will always remember the 7th of November 2012. Please leave me comments below - if you haven't had enough of talking about the election I would love nothing more than to hear what you think, whatever your views may be. I'll leave you with this video and wish everyone a happy 7th of November! I'm so excited to have enjoyed this day, when three years ago, at almost exactly this time, I thought I could never smile again.