Voting, Community, and Globalization

Today, I sent in my Absentee ballot for the Alaska election (November 2, 2010). I agonized over what to do as Alaska is currently in a rather contentious battle between the Tea Party and the good ole’ Republicans…and then of course the Dems (in Alaska, this party is never in the spotlight). Many democrats and republicans will be writing in Lisa Murkowski (the republican incumbent US Senator) instead of voting for Joe Miller (the Tea Party candidate who won the republican primary). As a registered Democrat, the idea of voting for or writing-in a republican seemed uncomfortable, yet the Democratic candidate, Scott McAdams, had nearly appeared out of nowhere (Sitka is basically nowhere… no offense to Sitka!). Now, the reason I am blogging about this is not to necessarily talk about politics. Rather, I write about this experience as an example of the many ways in which globalization affects my life. I am living in Switzerland, and I have fairly regular contact via facebook, blogs, skype, gmail, etc. with friends and family. Yet, I had been largely removed from much of the political dialogue that, had I been physically present, would have been impossible to avoid. Snippets on the radio, conversations – and arguments- with co-workers, parents, friends. Instead, I was forced to use purely electronic forms of political dialogue as my source of information. And, let’s be honest, facebook is great for keeping in touch, but in Alaska, putting up your political opinions is not always a good idea. In the meantime, my absentee ballot was staring at me each morning – and my unease was growing. The write in line seemed so blank, and McAdams so unfamiliar and strange. This seemed to only increase the growing feeling that I am so utterly removed; there is an entire ocean and continent between me and my roots – political or otherwise.

AYEA ladies voting in the primary, right before I left for Geneva

As a last resort, I decided to reach out to trusted friends and family for advice. What were they hearing about the election? Had anyone seen or met the candidates? Everyone responded, and with each email I not only was put at ease in terms of which way I should vote, but I felt  more connected to home. Alas, vast distances of ocean, tundra, and mountains cannot stop trust and politics from traversing with gmail. What a great feeling. Today, I filled in the ovals, sealed, signed, and mailed my ballot to Alaska – and will sleep peacefully tonight. Not only because of the decision I made, but for the comforting feeling of community I received while deciding. And, who knows, maybe this time my vote will count!


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