This year's US presidential election is perhaps the most compelling one in a very, very long time. We have a clear social divide happening in America--both Democrats and Republicans in their respective conventions alluded to how our votes this November will mark one of the most important political and social crossroads of our lives.
I think as voters we definitely feel some sense of a crossroad ahead of us. Obama represents the "new(er)" path for many, while Romney embodies a predilection towards the "traditional." This juxtaposition is quite fascinating for American voters but interestingly enough, plenty of Chinese citizens are also highly captivated of our current political interchange.
Of course this Chinese fascination can be credited to the explosion of online social media in recent years, where anybody with an internet connection and communication device can tune in and have their say on an infinite number of subjects around the world. But the interest level probably wouldn't be the same for them if it were not for critical analyses they feel appropriate towards their own politicians and leaders:
"When our leaders stop lecturing us with a stern face, when their wives stop putting on airs to give us a lesson, when they can reach to us with sincerity, as 'one of us,' that is the time when China will become civilized," states Wang Weija on Weibo.
China's authoritarian political atmosphere certainly gives their citizens a different lens with which to observe US politics and speeches. Many Chinese have a decidedly more "innocent" approach to political speeches in the US, where facts and lies run rampant at times. They may not understand the extent to which our leaders stand at a podium and bark inaccuracies for half an hour (ex: Paul Ryan), but it isn't difficult to see why so many of them have started supporting President Obama for another term.
Speeches in China may be more straightforward and fact-checked than ours lately, but information and certain freedoms remain questionable in most circumstances there. Chinese citizens are more educated and progressive then ever in the country's history; they know what they want for themselves and the future. Let's recognize the possibility that the values they project onto our elections are significant not only to those in China, but also to those forward-thinking communities in other parts of the world. Unlike 2008, many more people abroad will watch our election this time--through their laptops, phones, TVs, iPads, you name it.
I'm just glad that even China's web users are leaning towards the future in our own American crossroads. They know that even though this isn't their own country's election, the outcome is something they'll deal with for four years regardless. It's a positive sign so far.