With less than a day to go until the US Election Day, the race between current president Barack Obama and his opponent Mitt Romney is neck and neck. With the three presidential debates completed, the two candidates have been spending all their time travelling across the country to visit all key states in the last few weeks.
The impact of the presidential elections and in particular the election campaign on day-to-day life in the US is immense. No one living and working in the US can ignore or overlook the hype, press and campaigns leading up to the elections, which started over a year and a half ago. But why does this seem to be so important in the US? Here are a few ideas about why this might be so but there are surely unlimited cultural explanations for this approach.
The American Dream
Today the US is a multicultural melting pot of almost 315 million people of varying race and cultural heritage. Despite the many differences within American society, the nation is founded on the fundamental belief in egalitarianism. An important value of American culture is the concept of equality, this collective understanding of the notion of equality that underpins many social relationships. Americans believe in having equal rights, equal social obligations and equal opportunities based on the concept of individual merit.
This concept of egalitarianism contributes to the system frequently referred to as the ‘American Dream’, whereby hard work deserves success and financial prosperity. A person’s position in US society is typically determined by their achievements as opposed to their status or age. In other words, Americans believe that working hard should be praised and rewarded. The American ‘Can Do’ mentality is famous – anyone and everyone can become the president. Both candidates put high emphasis on being normal people and how working hard has brought them to where they are now.
It’s Up to You
Another important value in the US is the concept of individualism. Americans tend to place a high emphasis on individual initiative and personal achievement. Independence and self-reliance are highly valued which became very clear when president Obama introduced his health-care plans. Many Americans objected to his ideas because they don’t want the government to interfere in their personal life and decisions. Americans don’t want anyone else to tell them what to do.
This value extends to the workplace where business is frequently carried out autonomously. When living and working in the US, you may come across employee league targets at work in which competitive targets are shared among all employees. This shows how competitive the American business environment can be. The concept of ‘being the best’ is very important.
An important saying in the US is ‘Tell it like it is’. Within this concept of individualism, Americans like to speak up and tell you want they think. They highly value their own opinion. But despite their individualistic approach to life, Americans are considered rather nationalistic. You can find the American flag everywhere and all children learn the Star-Spangled Banner (the national anthem) in school.
Election Day is a unique chance for Americans to share their opinion and choose a new leader for their own country. This is one of the reasons there is such hype around the American elections: it is the one chance every four years when Americans can speak up and decide what they think is best for their own country.
Tomorrow we will find out who will be the new leader of the US and some say even the new leader of the world. It is inevitable that you will notice the importance of these elections. Anyone living and working in the US should try to understand and follow the elections to truly be part of American culture.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2012