Though the two candidates running for governor of Virginia are not overwhelmingly liked, if we step away from our more local concerns, we can actually see that we have it pretty good here.
Consider, for example, the continent of Africa. Honest, reliable elections are not commonplace in many areas of the continent. An important question on how to address the troubles that so many are suffering from has consumed no small amount of thought among many smart and dedicated minds. Jeffrey Sachs is a well-known economist who has dedicated lots of intellectual energy and sweat in trying to improve the lives of many, and yet the results are not convincing according to one study of Sach’s work.
In order to achieve some stability in Rwanda, the ruler there, Paul Kagame, has used methods that no one would approve of in America, yet he has led a country to a level of safety that less than two decades ago witnessed one of the worst human tragedies in generations. On the one hand, people live in a largely safe environment, yet on the other hand, they have to be VERY careful about what they say regarding their leaders. It’s easy to take for granted that we can have lots of the safety, and yet still rip apart our leaders, which many of us will do when one of the two candidates become Virginia’s next governor.
According to another recent poll, Mr. McAuliiffe is maintaining a slight lead over Attorney General Cuccinelli, 43% to 38%. Is it more meaningful that one candidate has a slight lead, or that neither candidate is close to 50%? Either way, when all is said and done, both winner and loser will accept the results and we the people of Virginia will jump back into the fray to argue over the policies proposed by our new governor. And we know that no one will be locked up for speaking truth to power. Don’t get me wrong, many Americans can rightly point out that civil liberty protections are not always secure, as groups on the right and the left have complained about administrative overreach against detested voices. All true, but I’ll take Presidents Bush and Obama, and a Governor Cuccinelli or McAuliffe over a Paul Kagame any day.
Thankfully, however, even with the troubles that occupy many places in Africa, a most beautiful country shines brightly: Ghana! I had the pleasure of visiting Ghana in May 2012 with three Virginia Community College System colleagues, and it was a most amazing experience. Just as America was gearing up for the election between President Obama and Governor Romney, Ghana was doing likewise with their two major party candidates. Ghana’s election results were debated a bit more aggressively than our 2012 election results (but certainly not any more aggressively than our infamous 2000 election). But when all was said and done, Ghana held another contested election that was free of serious fraud and that resulted in a winner everyone accepted, even if they weren’t happy about the results. It took some investigating and supreme court decisions, but then, as I mentioned, the US is no stranger to close elections, right?
So it goes.