The U.S presidential elections, from the campaigns to the election proper were very exciting experience for me. I have never belonged to any political party in my country but as a citizen, I register and vote the candidate whose ideals and principles appeal to me. As a Humphrey Fellow, I had the opportunity to observe the U.S presidential campaigns and elections, even though from a bird’s eye-view from Arizona State.
In terms of the campaign messages, it is similar to my home country. Campaign messages most often carry blackmail and negative impression about the candidates. Each political party strives to undercover the misdeeds of the other. There are always posters everywhere with promising messages. The U.S. presidential campaign was one that saw Republican challenger Mitt Romney try to knock out incumbent Barack Obama from his sit as Commander-in-Chief. The Massachusetts’ Governor used the economic slow-down (debts and low jobs) of the United States to make and issue to unseat the president.
I saw a tough one for the incumbent Obama considering that there was massive dissatisfaction from some of his own cohort about his poor performance at the first presidential debate. While some people found him unconvincing, others thought that he decided to be simple, considering that he is on the academic side in a nation where simplicity is revered; but pundits of political communication thought it was a political strategy to study the whims and caprices of his opponents. Nevertheless, whatever the case, Obama was determined in the next two debates not to make the same mistake he made during the first in which he led Romney to take control of the debate. So during the second and third, the Commander-in-Chief made lasting imprint or impression and I think that inspired and appealed to many voters for his credit.
Equal opportunity for presidential candidate
Both candidates had equal time on all official media outlet especially television during their campaigns. Except in cases where the messages were paid for (as commercials) by each campaign team or individual, there was media balance in reporting about the two candidates. This was different that my country where political parties are given airtime according to which party owns the largest number of representatives in the National Assembly. Rules or regulations regarding the campaigns were observed and I could see that no matter the difference in opinion or ideologies both candidates respected each other’s personality. Every time Romney addressed Obama he said “Mr. President” and when Obama had to address the former he said “Governor Romney”. They recognized each other’s personality and to me that was respect and gentlemanly behavior for each other.
Transparency – social media at work
Social media definitely has an impact on elections. Messages spilled from twitter, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Therefore, with or without a radio or television, information was available online at all times. And even on the day of the elections, social media helped to spread results. Social media eliminated the idea of any election fraud. It was possible to get results as early as possible from some states and those results were transmitted faster by social media.
Talking about stereotypes of racial discrimination, this elections left lasting impression in my mind about what people think of Americans. The re-election of Barack Obama as president of the United States shows that Americans care more about the interest of the Nation and not an individual. I felt humbled to see Americans give a “black man” another chance to lead the American people. And like Mitt Romney all I can say is that we pray for the President and his family so that he can lead the American people to where they wish to be.