Rock ZA Vote

Claire Quinn
August 21, 2016

As an American, I consider myself lucky. I live in a nation that holds the principles of democracy at the highest possible regard. As a political science and public policy major, I have studied the foundations of the American government from a critical perspective and analyzed the works of the founding fathers in the respective historical context. Before arriving in South Africa, I was privileged to work on Capitol Hill and see my democracy in action. While I realize that this system isn’t without its flaws, I stand by my country and its persistent dedication to giving people the opportunity to participate in their political system. While I am grateful to be American because I have inalienable rights that give me a voice, and I am thankful for the millions of people that have lost their lives protecting this privilege. By no means however, should this feeling be mistaken as pride for American politics. Frankly, I am ashamed by American politics. Living in Cape Town for the past two months has solidified this belief. South Africa just recently had their local government elections. In SA, local government is made up of municipalities that are run by councils composed of mayors and other popularly elected party officials. For the first time since the end of apartheid, the African National Congress (ANC), the party of Nelson Mandela, lost it’s over 60% popular majority in local elections. The Democratic Alliance (DA), the major rival party of the ANC, won a significant amount of seats. This change in party support shows the power of South Africans to change their political system when they feel the party in power isn’t providing adequate governance. In South Africa, the major metropolitan areas, the centers of capitalism and commerce united under as a community in support of electing officials that they hope would stop South Africans from being oppressed by providing them with essential services. The power of the South African voters voice was heard across the world as the ruling party for over 20 years lost it’s historic majority.

 In America, the presidential election of 2016 is the first national election for the executive branch that I have been legally able to vote in. As a voter, I am angry that the first election I am allowed to participate in focuses more on issues of ignorance, racism, and sexism than presidential politics has in the last 20 years. It is frightening to think that one of the possible candidates has never held an elected political office, and the other is more frequently referenced as the lesser of two evils than possible first female president. As I expected, I am frequently asked by my South African friends about Trump and Clinton and the mess of U.S. politics, and my answer has come down to something along the lines of, “Well Election Day is the day before I’m supposed to leave this country, so I may just accidently miss my flight depending on the results”. From the perspective a person living abroad, I am almost afraid to return to America; I’m unsure of whether it’s my awareness of current events, or just a simple decline in the cohesive nature of my country, but the Democracy that I am so proud to participate in is also filled with hateful and harmful rhetoric. Even thousands of miles away in Cape Town, I receive nearly daily updates of race related hate crimes, terrorist attacks, or political scandals in the States. It has come to the point where even 84 Olympic medals can’t seem to bring Americans together. As a person that has worked in American Politics, I understand the power of partisanship, but I refuse to accept that it can tear apart my country like it has in the past few years. While my view right now is pessimistic, I know that my generation can do better. Across the world I have been surrounded by astounding people, each of them brilliant in so many ways, and I know that we are capable of compromising. We have seen politics rip apart our country, and it’s our job to fix it. We can do better. As Americans, we are bigger than what the 2016 presidential election has made America out to be within the global system. If anything, a silver lining from this election is that it has made so many more young Americans aware of what is going on in their country, and why their vote is essential. We need to continue asking questions, and talking about what is going on in our political system. Practicing indifference in this election by giving up your vote because you deplore both candidates is wasting your power. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said,  “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting”. As an American, I consider myself lucky that even from 7,809.4 miles away (12 567,97 KM for my ZA friends) my voice will be heard. I encourage all of my friends, at home and abroad to do the same. We may be young, we may have made selfie-stick socially acceptable, but we are powerful and our opinion matters.


For more information on how to vote while living abroad PLEASE (for all of our sakes) see the link below:



For more information on how to register to vote in the States see the link below:


***These links are all from non-partisan websites. 

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Claire Quinn

<p>My name is Claire. I am a thrill seeking millennial that is out to experience all the world has to offer. This blog will chronicle the greatest adventure of my life so far, a semester in Cape Town, South Africa. I have no idea what to expect, but my love for traveling and trying new things, as well as learning from the people around me has pushed me off the beaten path, and onto something completely new. Here&#39;s to the next six months of my life, I hope every moment is as unpredictable as I am.</p>

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Gettysburg College
Political Science
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