Near Yellow Mountain

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election night

My younger daughter just sent me a text with a picture of her official ballot. This is her first presidential election and while I am pretty sure her vote for the top job will cancel out mine, I am just happy she got out and voted.

I voted in early knowing that I would be in Japan on Election Day. It is Wednesday morning here and I am hoping we have a result before I go to bed tonight. Twelve years ago, our first year living in Japan, we had the Bush – Gore debacle, I remember starting a dinner with customers who told me Gore won and it had been announced on TV. I got home and found that nobody had won and I spent the next few weeks trying to explain our convoluted electoral process to my Japanese friends who seemed to take comfort in the fact that our political process seemed as screwed up as Japan’s.

Explaining the nuances of the “hanging chads” and the election equivalent of a food fight in Florida was tough enough but many were surprised to find out that the candidate with the most votes doesn’t necessarily win in our “democratic” process. While nobody came out and compared our 2000 process to a third world election, I had the feeling many were simply too kind to state the obvious.

I am hoping this election does not put American politics in the global comedic spotlight again but as I left the hotel this morning, CNN was reporting that each candidate’s lawyers were preparing to litigate results if necessary. Not a good sign.

Of course, my favorite Japanese election stories relate to pronunciation rather than questions about our process. Given that “L” as we know it does not exist in Japanese and is normally substituted with the “R” sound; election is normally pronounced “erection” by Japanese English speakers.  It is hard to keep a straight face when asked; “don’t you have an erection in the US today? Or as in 2000, “wow, the US erection really lasts a long time”. My Japanese teacher, being a very proper lady, lamented the problem of even discussing the topic in English.

Given the current state of our political process maybe we should all be seeking medical attention because our “election” definitely lasts more than 4 hours.