As election day draws near, I can’t help but share a reflection on elections, from my time living in Asia.
As many of you may recall, I lived in Hong Kong some 20+ years ago. During my time there I traveled constantly, visiting different countries and markets. One particular experience stands out to me so significantly each time we, in America, face an election.
I was visiting Singapore and my guide and translator was showing me different markets, retail shops, etc. I saw so many signs in the markets and asked what the signs were saying. She explained that they were in the midst of an election. I will never forget her telling me that in Singapore they vote for their President “just like American’s do.” What struck me was how proud she was of their system, that it was “the same” as the American system.
For my part, I was both surprised and thrilled to hear this and started asking about their system. How do you identify candidates I asked? She explained that the government selects a good candidate and slate and brings that forward. So, you just have one option that you vote on? This felt odd to me. Oh yes, just the one she replied. I pushed on that a bit, well then that is not really a vote is it? If there is only one candidate, you are not really making a choice, right? Yes, she explained, they go into a voting booth and vote for that candidate.
But, what if that candidate is not the best for Singapore? Oh, she exclaimed, the candidate is outstanding. How do you know I inquired? The words to this day that haunt me were in her response, “the government would never give us a bad candidate. They find only the best people to lead us.”
I stopped asking about their election after that response. Every year, when we in America face an election, I remember, ever so vividly, this experience.
For all the challenges of an American election, the truth is, we have a choice. We have the opportunity to select our President and government leaders. Our freedom starts with our ability to choose. We have a patriotic duty to choose wisely.