Thursday, October 30, 2008

Registering US Voters in Hong Kong

[Milo’s Note: Bud Carroll is a good friend of more years than either of us is wont to recall. I asked him to do a guest column about his activities in Hong Kong related to the U.S. election. His is a message from thousands of miles away that all of us should hear and heed. Thanks for your words and your labors, Bud!]

I've spent most of the past month helping Americans living in Hong Kong register to vote. These have included Democrats, Republicans, Independents and “Undecided." It is crucial, no matter what one's political affiliation to vote in this election. I doubt most Americans realize that for several decades, a minority of voting age people have elected our Presidents. How shameful of us. To talk on the one hand about democracy [our constitution says we're a Republic!] while on the other, doing little more than complaining about Washington. That's simply not enough!

The U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong says there are close to 50,000 American citizens living here. Our small band of Democrats has helped register several hundred people. We've also helped raise considerable funds to support the Obama/Biden campaign. We've also spent time and energy calling friends on the U.S. Mainland, urging them, 'be sure to vote." I wonder how many people remember it was Absentee Ballots that enabled Jim Webb to win his 2006 Virginia senatorial seat. It was absentee ballots that enabled the Democrats to regain control in the Congress.

Each presidential campaign usually begins with these words, "This is an exceptionally crucial time..." Right on! But 2008 is even more so. This is the 18th Presidential campaign year since the year of my birth. The first I actually worked on was in 1956. As a then 19-year old college sophomore, I was thrilled to work for Adalai E. Stevenson [his middle name is my first name - Ewing!]. Then in 1972 a small group of we Hong Kong-based Americans worked on the George McGovern campaign. We were a small group with big hopes, ideas and ideals. We were also then a nation at war - bringing irrevocable harm and destruction to participating nations and to our wonderfully brave women and men in the military.

The issues facing today's America - and the world, are more severe, challenging and frightening than anything in my entire life. But we are a people of hope and change. An Obama White House will enable much of that change and hope to become reality. Not easily. Not quickly. Not inexpensively. Not without tremendous patience, persistence and compromise.

I predicted early on that this year's campaign would be among the muddiest ever. How sad to have been so right! But now we need to move beyond mud to concrete. Resolving to put aside our stark differences and create new foundations of trust and cooperation, sealed with healing balms of acceptance amidst disagreement, ignoring who is Red or White, "them" or "us," "Real America" or "That America," and like every other nation in the world, "Under God."

When someone recently asked "Why would you ever support Obama instead of McCain," my first instinct was to respond in some politically philosophical way. But my Christian faith genes won out. My answer comes from these words penned by Lloyd Stone in 1934 amidst The Great Depression*:

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

* “This is My Song” The United Methodist Hymnal (1989), page 437

- Bud Carroll

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