Go Vote

The day is finally here. I have nothing further to add to the overwhelming amount of information about the candidates. You must certainly know by now whom you hope to have at the helm for the next four years. Be absolutely certain that you do whatever it takes to put that opinion on paper.

Let me tell you what it’s like to follow the election from Japan. The people here in Sano, where I live, can’t stop talking to me about it. They can’t believe that I, their friend with whom they speak as they do with any other ordinary person, gets to vote for America’s president. In Japan, regular folks don’t have any say in who becomes Prime Minister. “Other people decide,” they say.

But what’s more, Japanese care more about who’s President of the United States than they do about who’s Prime Minister of Japan. The POTUS has more influence on the state of the world and that, in turn, has more influence on the state of Japan’s economy. Plus, Japan depends on America for its defense. With North Korea barely a 5-minute missile flight away, you can imagine how important that is.

When I went to my local post office to mail my absentee ballot in October, I caused a scene. “This is a ballot to elect the American president,” I said at the window. All conversations petered out and workers behind the counter made their way to my window to have a look. They handed it from one to another, looked at me, looked at the envelope with my signature on the back, and looked back at me again. “It’s important,” I said. Then they set about printing the postage and stamping the postmark and showing me that it would go out that day come more earthquakes or another typhoon. Everybody bowed as I left. I heard excited chatter before the door closed behind me.

That night I had a drink with friends. “I voted today,” I announced. They looked at me much the same way the postal workers had. It’s an amazing feeling to know that others are amazed. The American president. The United States of America, that place of worldwide love and hate, the biggest buyer of everything, the trendsetter, Old Glory, Washington and Lincoln and Roosevelt, Jazz, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Hollywood, the Grand Canyon, the Big Mac — and this guy slumped in a chair drinking Sapporo draft gets to say who’s in charge?

Yes, I do. And so do you. A lot of people died for that amazing fact. A lot’s at stake this time around. Don’t sit it out. Go vote.

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