Sunday, October 31, 2010

What are you voting for?

On Tuesday, the United States will hold elections that will determine its political, economic and social trajectory. Over the weekend, Brazil had its citizens decide their collective future.

What strikes me is the difference in what Americans and Brazilians are going to the polls for.

Brazilians are electing the successor of their current president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and it looks like his chosen heir, Dilma Roussef, will win. This confirms the desire of most Brazilians to continue in the path Lula (as he is popularly known) has taken his country - a socialist, big government experiment that has brought 20 million Brazilians out of poverty and addressed social inequity at little cost to the government and no impact on the nation's economic growth. It is a model some Latin American countries are emulating to improve their lot.

Americans on the other hand, will be voting into office members of the 112th Congress, and it seems inevitable that the Democrats will lose control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate. It reflects how many Americans feel about the direction President Obama has steered the nation - one with an expanded role of federal government, a response in part to a devastating recession and an attempt to fix a broken health care system. Enough people feel overwhelmed and frightened by what they perceive as too much change too soon that they are stepping on the brakes.

During any election, the question is what are citizens voting for? For Brazilians, it is to lift up those at the bottom of society and bridge social and economic gaps.

What will you be voting for?

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