Sunday, March 2, 2008


Elections are everywhere. I don’t remember a time when there were so many elections, inaugurations or leaders in their first year. From Cyprus to Argentina, from Nicaragua to Russia, from Georgia to South Africa, from Zimbabwe to Thailand, from Peru to France, from Pakistan to South Korea, elections and new administrations are everywhere. And you thought it was just exciting in the US. Actually, because of the US, elections are exciting everywhere.

Not only has there been in the US such a renewed interest of just the primary election process, there is a HUGE interest outside the US in the US primary election process. So you’ve managed to excite the whole world. People here know about a radio host that hyped the crowd by bashing Obama and using the word Hussein at last four times before McCain came to speak, and how McCain apologized for that and said he was not about that (I’m assuming name bashing), and finally how the radio host came out the next day in full support of Hillary Clinton because of McCain’s comments after he hyped and introduced McCain (wow).

People here discuss how undemocratic the Democratic party is (I haven’t heard anything about Republicans). They have said that if Hillary Clinton wins the primary election simply because of superdelegates which lean in her favor though she was not popularly elected, it is a sad day for American democracy. I tried t explain that the presidency is what we claim to be democratic—not the party nomination process. That is up to the party to decide how it is done. But they wouldn’t hear it. In fact they said countries running in blatant contrast to democracy will point at the US and say, “Well, look at the US they don’t even elect presidential nominees fairly in party primary elections!” Strange that people would even know the detailed process, but that’s what I’ve heard. I was asked to sign a petition by Americans sent to the DNC or DNP asking them to allow the public to decide where superdelegates vote. So it’s an interesting stage we are in.

I hear good and bad things about the candidates. People are most excited about Clinton and Obama. I’ve heard bad things (in the news) and good things. People talk about his dark eyes and his distance while others praise him. Here is something from the Asian Times. The writer doesn’t seem to like Obama and has given the most scathing description I have heard/read/seen so far.

This is a more even-tempered, probably honest story on his economics.

Here is the latest music video (see what I meant in an earlier update about

being a rock star) from Obama. Notice the number of prominent Latinos.

I think somebody is trying to win the Texas primary.

I’m excited to see what happens this Tuesday and to move forward to the actual main presidential election. I wonder if Nader is running, again. Actually I think he is.

And I think the Nader effect will be taking effect in Zimbabwe (when a split in one side [having multiple people that match with your choice] decreases the number each (on the split side) receives and causes the other person [opposite party or side] to win.

Remember that Zimbabwe is another African country where the leaders has been leading for ever (we’re going on 28 years now). And, now, Makoni has decided to run after which he was kicked out of his own party, the ruling ZANU-PF. But Tsvangirai, head of the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) who has challenged Mugabe for the past 9 or so years is still running. So now there are two opposition candidates which is bothersome to me because it decreases the chances of either winning (not to mention corruption). Supposedly, Makoni has the favor of the ruling elites, but no one has given him any public backing so it’s hard to tell. He is courting them, though. Tsvangirai is the only guy doing the grass roots campaign where you go to places and speak on a stump to the guys on the street. Makoni isn’t even engaging in it. He just makes announcements and has meetings in swanky hotels with elites. So it’s a bit strange.

The most formidable task though is the natural and normal corruption involved in Mugabe’s elections. According to the Economist, one party official said “We used to laugh at Nigeria over corruption. Not anymore.” That comment made me laugh.

So some people think Makoni was planted by the ruling party to prevent Tsvangirai from winning. Some ZANU-PF people really dislike him since he broke off from them. Either way, some think he will hardly have a chance as the vote may be decided in the rural areas where ZANU-PF has its strongest support. Makoni’s people will be combing the polling stations to prevent all the tricks the ruling party uses to keep Mugabe in power. Sadly, none of the reforms Thabo Mbeki helped to oversee will take place before the elections (media and voting reforms including a new constitution). So the media and radio are still not independent. And tricks like having too few ballot papers may still get past some of Makoni’s polling agents who are looking out for ruling party tricks. The election’s next month, and this is about as exciting as it gets in Zim (and really all of Africa, as well; everyone wants to see him [Mugabe] go). The nice thing is that there has been no pre-election violence by the ruling party against opposition candidates, so that most seats are up for contest by the opposition party.

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