Americans: Beef Up on Politics Before You Travel

Election time is here. Actually I will be in Europe right around the time I need to cast my vote in the next presidential race here in the U.S. Thank goodness for absentee ballots.

Nevertheless, the world will be holding their collective breath as we decide the new leader of the free world.

Our televisions are being inundated with conventions and muckraking campaign ads. Soon there will be an overflow of debates to sway us this way and that.

But who cares?

Some Americans will barely acknowledge that a political storm is brewing much less vote. Others will just vote across the party line, no matter what the candidate promises. And still more won’t even know who is on the ballot.

Tip: Read up on your country’s current political state before you travel. Know the hot topics and be aware of what is happening around the rest of the world.

When you travel people expect you to be informed. We have friends abroad that know more about our political system than we do.

Quite frankly it’s embarrassing.

The last time I was faced with a political discussion while traveling was back in the spring of 2008. It was an election year. No one knew that Obama would soon be president.

There were certainly rumblings. Our friends in London wanted to know what we thought of the potential democratic candidate.

I realized that I needed to get a newspaper or hop on CNN.com stat. Actually I could just turn on the BBC. We were in London after all and they were covering U.S. politics quite well.

Since then I have tried to stay informed. I read the headlines. I watch the news when the kids are asleep, and I pop around the international presses to see how other countries are reporting what is happening here at home.

When I return to Europe this October, I will not be an ignorant miss who knows less about the fate of her country than those she is visiting. I’ll sound intelligent, have opinions and be able to debate the issues I am passionate about.

After all, if we don’t care about what happens to our country, who will? And how can we expect change if we don’t stay informed and stay active in our political system? You may not agree with the politicians, but we are the only ones that can cause change.

And the rest of the world knows it.

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Photos: I snapped these pictures of my TV while the DNC was being broadcast.

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written by Keryn Means

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4 comments

  1. That’s a travel tip most of us would never consider, but it’s a good one. It is important to be informed about what is going on in our own country, preferably from a variety of sources. It is also good to know what is going on in the country to which you are traveling. What does it say when citizens of the nations we visit know what is happening where we live, but we have no idea what is happening outside our borders? Safety is another consideration for reading up on current events before you travel. It is still reasonable to visit parts of the Middle East or Mexico, but you ought to be familiar with current events there before you pack your bags.

  2. Mom

    You go girl! As you know, I’ve always encouraged you to be an involved citizen, to at least vote! I just visited the offices of both my Senators to share my concerns about hunger both here and abroad, along with some fellow members of Bread for the World(bread.com). Bread is an advocacy group that acts on behalf of those who hunger both here and abroad. I was so grateful for the freedom to share my concerns and get a listening ear.

    As you point out, if we are truly going to be global citizens, we’d better act as if we are already citizens of our own country! And who knows, great things may happen and great conversations may take place!

  3. So true, and I’m guilty of not following the news enough. It’s easy to be ambivalent when I know I’m leaving soon and my home state (California) is DEFINITELY going to go Democrat whether I vote or not. You bring up a really good point, though. It’s embarrassing to be misinformed about one’s own country.

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