Monday, January 19, 2009

I watched the 2008 US Elections from Siem Reap

I was in Cambodia just before the US Election. Leading up to the election almost everyone asked me who I was going to vote for. Almost everyone favored Obama.

The first thing my Tuk Tuk driver from the airport asked was who are you voting for? This is of course after the "no I'm not Chinese" conversation I had a thousand times on my trip. Even though Siem Reap is a sleepy little town there were signs of Obamamania. It's probably more from UN workers than the locals. The locals did care, but some are just so poor that the American Presidency makes no difference to them. Others just want America to be less evil again. =) People I ran into still look up to America, they want to believe it is a shining beacon of hope, of liberty, of freedom, but most of all I think they want to believe that if you tried you could make it in America. They also think you'll automatically have a big car and big house. =) That's probably because these people are poor and having a nice car, home, and food is a big luxury. There just seemed like so little opportunity to work, to improve one's situation in Siem Reap.

On the day of the election I woke up early to go to Angkor Wat. As amazing as the temples of Angkor were, in the back of my head I kept wondering how the election was going. Once I was done at Angkor I rushed back to my hostel, hopped on the internet and turned the TV on to cnn. By that point the victor was already declared, it was Obama. I was ecstatic at that moment (I hate Bush/Cheney). It's the happiest I've ever been for a presidential election in my life. It's also the first time I've ever voted for the winning President! While I don't think he will be able or willing to reverse all of the Bush/Cheney policies I don't like, I do think he's the least evil of all the candidates. He has also done a good job in uniting the nation and inspiring every day Americans. I would say that Americans need that out of their president right now, just like many say Gerald Ford's integrity made him he right guy after watergate. I have never seen a president like that in my lifetime, only in the history books. Yeah, so I'm glad he won, but nothing's changed yet. We'll see, I mean we're hopeful right now.

A couple of Obamamania Pictures in Siem Reap:
Look at this sign posted in the Market/Restaurant area: Americans Abroad for Obama.

On election day there were Cambodian bar girls standing outside with Obama shirts.

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