Politics and the Australian Cabbie

Let’s face it.  I live in Australia where 99% of the general population don’t have a clue about American history, government, or politics.  The 1% who do?  Taxi drivers, or as they say here “cabbies.”  They’re always keen to engage me in a heated discussion about America, its leaders, its wars,  its economy, and of course, what I think about President Obama.  Over the past two years, I’ve cherished these precious moments in the cab because they serve as a mini outlet through which I can discuss all things American and exchange political views.

Back home in California, I’d quite often enjoy discussing politics with my brother-in-law (a U.S. History professor) or with my cousin’s friend Anthony (an attorney in LA).  And while I appreciate the arguments and views from each of them (one being conservative, the other liberal) it’s the taxi drivers in Australia who seem to provide a whole new perspective for me because even though none of them are American, all of them share a common curiosity and fascination with it.  Some cabbies love the U.S.  Others criticize it.  Few have visited.  Many still dream of making it there.  But what gets me every time is that no matter where they come from and what they believe, they all have something positive to say about my homeland.

With the presidential election just 67 days away and the RNC kicking off, it’s hard for me not to catch presidential fever.  I’m headed to the post office this afternoon to send off my voter registration/ballot request, thanks to a nonprofit, nonpartisan public charity called the Overseas Vote Foundation.  To me, voting is a privilege and just because I no longer reside in America doesn’t mean I’m happy to bypass the opportunity.  If you live in Australia and you don’t vote, you actually get fined. Fined, people!!! Now to me, that’s just crazy talk.  I wonder if it’s a topic I should discuss with the cabbie next time…

Nowadays, I’m sure they’ve got plenty to say as we push through the final months leading up to the election.  I just might have to skip the bus one day and hop in a cab for a fresh, new dose of political banter before it all comes to a head on November 6th.

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