There is a fundamental truth that prevails in how the United States is seen by the rest of the world.
How the U.S. votes, the world votes.
I was very aware of this reality from a very early age. I was born in Greece to an American mother and a Greek father. I’m an American by default; I didn’t become a full-fledged “American” until after our arrival here as a family in 1992, at the tail end of the first Bush administration. As a young teenager, I discovered a very different America, from the one shown to the rest of the world. The America we were shown in the movies was a completely different place. The America sold to the world is not the America lived up close.
People who are U.S. citizens living abroad are most aware of this dichotomy and its consequences. The U.S. is a super power, and for as long as I’ve been able to understand the political process, it has been actively determining how the rest of the world works.
Every U.S. president is deemed, by Greek society and its media, the Planet’s President. He who acts so powerfully towards the rest of the world, that the rest of the world must be forever aware of its place, a supreme leader. Most Americans have no idea who the president or prime minister of other countries is; they don’t have to until it’s a problem for them, or until their old “friends” become “enemies”.
Everyone knows who the U.S. president is and what HE stands for. From the first moment I set foot in the US to live, I realized my unique understanding of what it means to exercise my civic duty. I exercised and continue to exercise my right to vote because I knew it was my obligation as a U.S citizen who was born and raised abroad, to cast my vote for how the U.S. is perceived, through its international image. Local politics determined international relations, trade, war, peace and prosperity. The most chilling reality most Americans don’t see is that America’s president and Americas elections dictate how the world functions.
My resolve to vote in every election was cemented further after the 2016 election’s results, (and in previous years) I was mostly disappointed, disheartened but not at all surprised. So my vote is not a reaction to the status quo but as an affirmation that people who vote for the greater good also vote for their local good in their families, communities, friends and fellow citizens. That’s the only way I know how to be. We all have a responsibility to have governance that is for the greater good and not only through personal growth and gain.
The reason people opt out of the vote is that for whatever reason, at least up until recently, it wasn’t dire, it wasn’t imperative, it wasn’t necessary, and it doesn't help.
The people felt powerless.
Voting is not just a privilege it’s your obligation to show up, and make good on the pure fact that you’re a citizen of a town, a city, a country and you matter. I voted for those who can’t, and to honor the city and town I have come to call my second home.