With the first three of four presidential debates now behind us, and the fourth due to take place today (October 22), the race for the White House is getting hotter, and candidates and their supporters on both sides are looking forward to November 6 – the date of the election. The U.S. Presidential debates have become a cultural phenomenon in their own right: slogans, art, memes, and themed parties are all part and parcel of the massive run up to the day itself.
For many internationals it is a unique experience. Whereas elections in other countries can be a somewhat muted affair, in the U.S. they are big business. Millions of dollars are spent on television ads and marketing, and almost every aspect of life is touched in some way by the candidates’ campaigning. Since New York State is not a “swing state,” it has been spared the level of intense campaigning seen in others; however the week of the election, and the night itself, are sure to be memorable. As with the 2008 election, the 2012 fight between President Obama and Governor Romney seems almost too close to call, and you can expect a tense atmosphere from both camps as the results come in.
The election results will change the U.S., and with issues such as immigration and foreign policy dividing opinion, internationals will be watching to see the outcome.
Tracking the Election
There are several smartphone apps available to keep up to date with news, opinions and live results on November 6.
The New York Times Election 2012 app, available for iPhone and Android, offers a range of multimedia sources and opinion pieces, along with election night results as they come in. New York Time also provides live fact checking during the debate. Ask any questions you want checked via their webpage, or post on Twitter with #AskNYT.
A recently launched CNN / Facebook tie-in, I’m Voting, brings together social media and voters’ opinions in an attempt to gauge general reaction to specific events as well as encourage wider voting participation. It’s a good way to see how certain issues are perceived across the country.
For Android, Election 2012 offers you the chance to get to know local and national candidates and follow stories, headlines and the campaign trail as it moves across the nation. The iPhone version can be found here.
Between now and November 6, Roosevelt House is running a series of discussions on party platforms and the individual candidate’s stances on critical issues. October 26 sees the series kick off with Presidential Platforms: What are they? What do they say about a candidate? Do they really matter?, a discussion between Hunter faculty members. This will be followed on October 29 by a panel discussion, moderated by David Steiner, on education policy, and on November 1 with a book discussion on the U.S.’s fuel dependency and environmental issues: all things the winning candidate will be faced with.
Election Night Events
On the night itself, we suggest getting together with friends for an election night party to enjoy the show as the news comes in. It’s common in the U.S. for friends, family and fellow-supporters (not an issue unless you have U.S. citizenship!) to get together for the evening and watch the results – and you don’t have to stay inside to do it. While we don’t expect the crowds to roam the streets in huge numbers like four years ago, there are still many events going on throughout the city on election night – we’ve selected a few.
The Kennedy Center, home to the National Symphony Orchestra, is putting on an Election Night Jam – an evening of jazz music and relaxed tunes with Jason Moran, Artistic Advisor for Jazz, and The Bandwagon. This event is open to any and all political views, but it’s more about the music.
On election night, livingliberally.org will be hosting their drinking liberally get together. Describing themselves as “An informal, inclusive progressive social group,” they point out that “Bars are democratic spaces – you talk to strangers, you share booths, you feel the bond of common ground. Bring democratic discourse to your local democratic space – build democracy one drink at a time.”
The New Era, meanwhile, is holding an Election Night Viewing Party at Chelsea Manor, with music by DJ Commish. Admission is free with RSVP, and you can expect a good time waiting for the results to come in.
There are bound to be events going on in local bars and pubs – simply asking around your neighborhood may reveal the political hotspots for the night. Wherever you end up, one thing’s for sure – you’ll have something to talk about as the night goes on.