Dear stranger, Vote Kerry
October 13, 2004 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Operation Clark County "Remember that it's unusual to receive a lobbying letter from someone in another country." The Guardian takes an initative for those of us overseas wondering if there's anything helpful we can do about you-know-what. Write to a swing voter, explain how you feel. Some samples are on offer, their hectoring tone could have quite the wrong effect. If you were a computer selected Clark County voter, what, from a foreigner, would change your mind?
posted by grahamwell (17 comments total)
I think the average American would toss it in the garbage.

Americans hate being told what to do.
posted by konolia at 4:08 PM on October 13, 2004

It actually might reinforce the sense that what we do affects others, and that our actions have worldwide consequences, and that kind of stuff, and it would compliment the person that got it, but i can't see it actually swaying anyone when it comes to their vote. (and many Republicans are actively against anything international or global--see all the bs against the UN, and the French)
posted by amberglow at 4:09 PM on October 13, 2004

It would bug the abject crap out of me. And I would never dream of sending anyone in any other country a letter about their electoral choices. You've got a hell of a nerve, people in other countries!

Pragmatically, I think that any given letter is more likely to backfire than to accomplish whatever its intended goal is.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:17 PM on October 13, 2004

If this were a country where this approach was likely to work, then it would be a country where this approach would not be necessary.
posted by Slothrup at 4:18 PM on October 13, 2004

If anybody in another country would like to be part of the US electoral process, there are several non-partisan organizations devoted to getting out the vote, etc., that would love contributions, I'm sure.

Lecturing individual voters by mail-- !=helpful.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:19 PM on October 13, 2004

I live about 3 miles south of Clark County; Mrs. Eustacescrubb works in Clark County, and I have to say that folks around here don't much like being told how to vote. All us Ohioans are flattered to be getting so much national (and international!) attention, but none of us is stupid enough to think the world at large would care about us if we weren't a hotly-contested swing state.

+ side of living in a swing state: Got to see Springsteen and Bright Eyes for fairly cheap.

- side of living in a swing state: British people are trying to tell me how to vote.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:29 PM on October 13, 2004

I had an odd flashback. I got interested in Amnesty International as a teenager, and I went to a few workshops on how to write good letters to prison wardens and dictators. I was amazed at some of the self-righteous crap people were writing.

I think I would feel very violated if I began to receive mail from abroad, or from any stranger who knew nothing about me. I appreciate the sentiment-- the U.S. is more than a place to live, it is a global force, and everthing it does affects nations around the world.

That having been said, the sample letters are beautifully written, thoughtful and persuasive. I hope informed people from around the globe will to write friends, acquaintances and publications about the coming election.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:55 PM on October 13, 2004

I saw the Guardian articles (and contest, if you can believe it) as part of my morning news-read here in London--and as an American expat (and a lifelong Democrat, thank you very much), I was absolutely appalled.

Who on the Guardian editorial staff approved this story and competition? Whoever it was, he/she has obviously not been reading the most elementary of history books.

Take a country which has a 200+ year history of absolutely refusing to be told what to do by any foreigners, and target one county in one "mittel" state for interference by foreigners? What the hell are the Guardian editors thinking? I cannot imagine one Clark County resident who would welcome a letter from a Brit telling them to vote for Kerry. Or for Bush, for that matter. More likely, I can imagine Clark County residents taking their unexpected airmail envelopes to the police, as suspected letter bombs.

I am vehemently anti-Bush; I support the Guardian's anti-Bush stance; but I think this is the absolute wrong way to project/proclaim it. Either the editors want trouble or they are just doing a stunt and don't care what happens.

And as for the "competition" to get a mini-tour of the US just before the election...if the winners are not US citizens, they stand a good chance of ending up in immigration jail rather than getting a tour of Ohio, unless the Guardian has, um, dotted all the i's, crossed all the t's, and in general, minded it's p's and q's. Considering that one of their reporters recently spent a very uncomfortable time at LAX, I'm not sure I would go to the USA as a foreigner under the auspices of this particular newspaper.
posted by Tholian at 5:11 PM on October 13, 2004

Tholian, I hope you have written a letter to the Grauniad editors expressing the sentiments you convey so eloquently above.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:17 PM on October 13, 2004

The only British persons whose opinions might sway me are dead ones. Who is this Frazer person compared to Victoria, Empress of India? What does Cecil Rhodes think? Kitchener's at Khartoum, send more Gatling guns!
posted by jfuller at 5:20 PM on October 13, 2004

I think somebody ought to ask the Dean campaign about how their "write letters to undecided Iowan voters" project turned out.

Good idea. Not so effective in practice.
posted by anastasiav at 7:45 PM on October 13, 2004

VOTE BUSH, you ignorant yankee motherfuckers.
posted by biffa at 2:19 AM on October 14, 2004

Dear Stupid American,

Hey – Inbred. Word reaches the more civilised parts of the world that you're having an “election” in order to decide which of two corrupt men you want to have ruining your county. Ha fucking Ha. It doesn't matter which of these two you choose. Your Corrupt American Empire is on the downward slope back to cave dwelling and no number of international MacDonald franchises is going to save your fat ugly American Asses.

If you must vote, may I urge that you vote for Bush. At least with Bush, there's more of a chance that you'll stay in Iraq, that more of your young men will die. As a consequence, after six or so extra years of bloodshed you'll probably shrink away from world politics forever, and this will be a good thing. Plus, there's a chance that (a) You'll make some great movies about the Iraq War (Apocolypse II) and (b) there will be a whole bunch of Horny Young American Women (tm) who's sweethearts were lost in the Middle East.

If you must vote, then vote for Bush. The economic deficit Bush has created is great news for British Buyers. There was a time when things from America cost the same as in the UK, but the fact that you've now got lots of poor people in America means that for us, things can only get cheaper. I'm looking forward to the day when I can import cheap sweatshop labour from Idaho. Who needs to hire the Chinese when Americans will be cheaper, and will speak the same language as me.

If you must vote, then vote for Bush. After another four years of BushMania, you'll have so fucked your country up that you'll be begging for Europe to come and help you out. And then, maybe, if you grovel hard enough, we'll come over, and help you out, and maybe allow you to become a small backwater member of our great European Union. And we'll insist that you have a King or a Queen, and we'll insist that you imprison your dentists, and we'll insist that you tear up your constitution, and while we're doing all this insisting, we'll be laughing our heads off, and knighting George Bush, because ultimately he'll have made it all possible.
posted by seanyboy at 5:40 AM on October 18, 2004

Those replies were hilarious.
posted by Orange Goblin at 5:50 AM on October 18, 2004

Bugger...wrong post.
posted by Orange Goblin at 5:51 AM on October 18, 2004

What an insane idea. I'm a huge Anglophile, lived in England for a few years, have always longed to live there permanently, and I would be quite annoyed by getting a letter from a Brit telling me how to vote.

Hell, I'm a Texan...I'd get mad if a neighbor told me how to vote. I mean, I understand and share the concern of the letter writers...but I find it the height of imperial arrogance to imply that they they some right to infringe on the elections of another country...especially America...a country that still celebrates overthrowing the Royal Prerogative.

Good lord, sort of sending redcoats to land in Dayton, I can't think of anything that would have pissed Middle America off more. The Guardian is due some presents from the Bushies...cause they just won the regime a whole lotta votes.
posted by dejah420 at 7:47 AM on October 18, 2004

jfuller - "What does Cecil Rhodes think?"

Dear Sir

It may perhaps seem forward of me to proffer my advice, unasked for, on the subject of your upcoming presidential election. It is, sadly, my duty to step forward and attempt to ameliorate the damage that the unquenched thirst for democracy of your infant nation may have upon those of us in older, perhaps more mature, countries.

I once was quoted as saying (by that imperialist in an internationalists clothing, Mr V.I.Lenin), that "If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists." I admire the clear sighted way in which this maxim of mine has been ruthlessly applied by your current government.

The imperial project, the almost holy task of dividing up the world into gardens tended by those best qualified, has fallen into abeyance this last century. And now, to the astonishment of those revenants such as myself who have lingered and watched in pain as all our work was undone, it has been returned to. Returned to by the least likely nation! One which during my lifetime, on the rare occasions it could be roused from contemplating its own vast extent and potential, turned viciously against those forces that would turn the world into a hothouse for the raising of mankind.

Once again I feel hope that the less fortunate nations of the world will be gently, but unflinchingly, guided back onto the path that God has ordained for them. They will have to give up their dreams of glory, and yet they will be happier for it.

So, my friend, please vote the correct, the Christian, the one true way this November. I once told a portraistist to paint me with "the eyes of the Sphinx looking over the desert into eternity for the future". Death has given me those eyes, and I can see that if you choose correctly the future of your race is indeed a glorious one.

C. J. Rhodes
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:25 AM on October 18, 2004

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