This week, I’ll be experiencing my first election in South Africa. This will be the country’s fifth democratic election since 1994. Last week, 27 April—Freedom Day—marked 20 years of freedom in South Africa; 20 years ago the ANC won the national election, and Nelson Mandela became president.
It’s a special time to be living in South Africa. Yet an underlying feeling of pathos pervades the country. Everyone knows that President Zuma will be re-elected, but you would be hard-pressed to find a South African who is happy with this scandal-plagued president.
I shy away from writing posts about South African politics because it can be a slippery slope as a foreigner. However, I can’t be apolitical or ignore the politics all around me.
Living abroad has given me a different perspective on American politics and politics in general. For Americans, I think we need to thank God every day for the person living in the White House—whether a George Bush or a Barak Obama. At the end of the day, democracy still reigns, and our marvelous system of checks and balances keeps things in order. We have so much for which to be thankful. You can see that clearly when you live abroad.
I also think that both of my countries are guilty of blind party loyalties. Whether you are a staunch Republican, Democrat, ANC supporter, or DA supporter, blind party loyalties are irresponsible, if not downright dangerous. We as citizens living in democratic countries need to wake up and stop being so lazy. We need to think for ourselves and not just vote for a party because we have always voted for Party X or because Party Y liberated us from an oppressive regime. Overtime, parties change; history clearly shows that. We need to stop being so lazy and look into the facts and party platform and start thinking about the consequences—intended or not—of proposed policies so that we can make an informed decision instead of giving in to sound-bites or falling prey to faulty promises.