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The responsibility of voters

Nov. 6 was Election Day, and, as a foreigner, this was the first time I got to experience the election firsthand. I watched the live coverage of the election with Americans on the second floor of City Grocery. I was the only non-American there. Every time Barack Obama won a state, everybody in City Grocery would cheer and applaud. After 10 p.m., when all the states had stopped voting, Obama finally succeeded in being re-elected. Everybody stood up and shouted, “Four more years, four more years ...” People hugged each other and cheered.
This was such a wonderful night for all the Obama voters. I didn’t have a political preference so I was fine with any result.
However, after the presidential announcement, something horrible happened on campus. The next morning, I read a Facebook status: “Every one of you Obama voters disgust me ... you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing to this country. Everyone who voted for Obama immediately delete me from your Facebook. You’re a disgrace.”
These reactions are the opposite of what I witnessed at City Grocery.
The person sitting next to me at City Grocery was a faculty member of the political science department. He said to me that he had just taught his students about China’s election system, which his students had trouble comprehending. He told his students that compared to the United States election system, China’s election system is much simpler. In China, according to its constitutional law, every 10 years, citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote on who will be their president. However, in reality our vote does not matter. Even though I am older than 18 years old, I never vote because it will not change anything. For that matter, I don’t know how or where to vote. We know there is only one candidate; we just need to pro or con.
The votes never change the results. We don’t get to make the decision for our country.
Why do Americans care so much for the election result? Are they more patriotic? Do they care about their country more? During the 2008 presidential election, many Americans who lived overseas came back to the United States to vote. Each individual had the right to be a part of the decisions made for this country. They feel that they have a responsibility toward their nation, so every voter makes his or her own decision carefully. They care about their decision, so they care about the results. This notion is powerful and positive for the country; however, it seems to sometimes cause hatred and violence.
Americans are so proud of their complicated and advanced election system. Nevertheless, people should be rational and accept the results, whether their candidate won or lost. The purpose of the presidential election is to make the country better, not to set citizens against each other and cause disturbances.

Wanfei Wu is a second-year integrated marketing communications graduate student from Yunnan Province, China. Follow her on Twitter @WanfeiWu.