The US Elections Through the Lens of a South African

I guess you could say I have politics in my veins!   I am a third generation white South African of English and Irish descent. My Grandfather was a member of the South African Parliament in the 1950s. I joined the opposition Progressive Party when I turned 18 and worked for the legendary Helen Suzman in her campaigns against the apartheid National Party. Although I rejoiced when the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela came to power in the 1990s I am still in opposition politics.

I am not sure when my interest in American politics began. I can remember the night as a 16 year old, when I heard that Kennedy had been assassinated.I was devastated and spent the weekend glued to the “Voice of America “. Since then every 4 years I apply for a days leave on the Wednesday after your Tuesday election and stay up all night watching CNN’s best political team.

I supported Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H, Clinton and George W. over the years . But 2008 was the election I shall remember for years to come. I have always had a soft spot for Hillary and followed her campaign with considerable interest. My son is an Obama supporter and we spent many an evening watching debates together ( at 3 am our time). I eventually accepted the inevitable and then switched my allegiance to Obama. I had no time whatsoever for Mccain. His ultra conservative views and right wing stance are not for me. Why fighting has to be the first option for solving problems I do not know. America has become one the most hated nations in the world. – even here amongst white South Africans.

If I thought my dislike for McCain was strong, when Governor Palin was brought in as running mate I knew he had blundered badly. I just could not imagine her being a heartbeat away from being President. I was nervous on election night. What if the polls were wrong ? But when Pennsylvania went to Obama I knew “we” had won. I still feel that if it had not been for the economy Obama would not have made it. But well done to him. I feel that anyone who  can seize the moment and take the opportunity deserves all the accolades he gets. I look forward to November 2012 when Obama will stand and win re-elected. Will his opponent be Tim Pawlenty (another one I can’t stand)? Only time will tell.

Thanks America.  Your elections are my 4-yearly highlight.

Mark Lee

About Mark Lee

Editor, author and writer with career spanning print, radio, television and new media.

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