Friday, February 8, 2008

Great Observation from DA Thailand Volunteer at 5 Feb Polls

Just want to say how nice it was to work together Tuesday for Democrats Abroad. Did you see the write up in the Bangkok Post? I find our group so refreshing after being among Thais all the time who approach elections with fear and trepidation, afraid to talk about the issues important to them. My Thai wife voted two weeks ago: the environment of the polling station was covered with formality, police and lack of any discussion. Back home they just said, there were no bribes this year. Hopeless. What a contrast to all of us sitting at the bar and around different tables exchanging ideas freely.

The most striking moment for me on Super Tuesday was when an 18 year old girl named Bouquet came up to the ballot box to insert her ballot for the first time in her life. She was giggly and excited and smiled so broad you could see the sunbeams breaking through the dark clouds of powerlessness which is part of being a teenager. She stepped up to the plate and claimed her rights to make a change. 18 and hopeful. They may have told her children are to be seen and not heard. But last Tuesday she said: Yes I can!
I was at the other side of the ballot box. I couldn't help but shake her hand and thank her for coming out today. So she got her Dad to take a picture of us shaking hands. Her Dad was silent behind the camera. But as a fellow father, I saw his grin of pride. I knew in my heart he was thinking: Yes, she can! It was a victory for me too: as I finished a day of volunteering to insure a free and fair election. We all did that together.

So Bouquet is the one I pondered about. I want us as Democrats Abroad in Thailand to encourage young people and their folks and their expat teachers to pick up the scent of this Bouquet ...learning to participate in public life and become young Democrats with a real voice that can bring change. Yes, we can.

Dr. Donald S. Persons, Foreign Expert
ASEAN Institute for Health Development
Mahidol University

1 comment:

Jon Harger said...

I would like to thank Dr. Persons for posting his comments on my daughter's first time voting. I have forwarded them to her.

When I suggested she go with me to vote, she demurred, saying she didn't really care. I pitched her on the importance of voting and of citizenship, mentioning the deep involvement of my family in New Jersey Democratic politics and of mine in Arlington and Falls Church, VA.

I also reminded her what a scourge the Republitoids are, paricularly with Mad George and DeadEye Dick usurping the White House, thus, making it of national and global importance to utterly defeat the Republitoids in all elections in the US on 4 November, to expunge the evil from our capital.

She caught the mood and agreed to go. On arriving at the FCCT, she was stunned with how organized things were with the voting booths all in a row and people bustling about discussing the candidates.

The volunteers helping register voters were most gracious and welcomed her to the Democratic voting fold.

And, as Dr. Persons pointed out, she was delighted when she put her ballot through the slot.

What is notable, too, is that she did not vote the same as her father: I voted for Obama; she for Hillary. I really appreciated that she had her own mind about that and that she had been following the primary campaigns enough to have a standpoint.

Thanks again to Dr. Persons for noting the occasion so well.

Jon Harger
Father of Bouquet