When you work as a preschool teacher or child care worker you have a set number of children for whom you are responsible. It’s a number, not a specific group of children, but when you go on field trips, that vague number becomes a specific set of children. Usually it’s eight.

This is most vividly illustrated in observing name tags. Because of the risk of child abduction, many daycares and preschools do put name tags on their kids but those name tags don’t have the child’s name on them, they have the name of the teacher watching over them. This is to prevent strangers from calling the child by name, winning their trust and doing something terrible. I realized how weird that looks when I was assigned twins on a field trip that involved a train trip.

An elderly couple, unfamiliar with contemporary levels of suspicion and caution, was seated across from me and the twins, who happened to be sitting with me. The twins were named Bronwyn and Eowyn, but to the couple, I looked like a mother who was either lazy, unimaginative, or honest about her own incompetence, because they assumed I had named both my twins “Stephanie.” They didn’t realize that there were six other “Stephanies” sitting in our immediate vicinity because only the twins and me were directly in their line of sight and the others were not.

I woke up this morning and realized that while I understand there are around 120 “Stephanies” in the world depending on my vote in this election, they are not labelled and others may not understand they exist.

America has a leadership role on earth. We make up about five per cent of the population but we are, by far, the most influential country in the world in terms of leadership and politics.

That means things like the Paris Accord, N.A.T.O., the W.H.O. and dozens of other positive movements and organizations and even attitudes, in general, rely on American leadership for their continued existence. It may have been wrong of America to take such a dominant role in global affairs but right or wrong, you cannot fail to observe the fact that such a role exists and it belongs to America.

Recently, it has come to my attention that many of my American friends seem to be working under the assumption that this election is a domestic affair. I have friends who are choosing not to vote. I have friends who think both sides are the same. They are wrong.

As an immigrant, and a fairly recently naturalized citizen, most of my friends are located outside American borders. Most of my life experience comes from Canada and the U.K. I assumed, since America has such a dominant role in the world, that my American friends understood what that meant in terms of global responsibility, but having lived here for a decade, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that many do not.

My friends in England, Canada, France, Italy, Scotland, Sweden, Lithuania, Russia, Australia, and yes, even Switzerland, are deeply concerned about this election. They are not neutral. They know that the fate of the globe depends on our choice. That’s not hyperbole. If it was, maybe I could sleep at night.

Whether you like Joe Biden or not, whether you care about this ridiculous Hunter Biden “issue” or not, whether it matters to you that Kamala may be being set up to be the first female President or not, you cannot stay home, you cannot vote independent and you cannot vote for Trump.

Countries around the world are literally waiting to see what happens in this election before they move forward with trade deals, commit to reducing greenhouse gasses, send help into war torn countries, or even open their borders to Americans.

Under Trump, longstanding international relationships have soured, treaties and trade deals have been ignored, human rights have been stripped from hundreds of thousands, standards of living have plummeted, labor standards have returned to the standards of slavery in some places. Human life has become cheap. And I am not referring to human life within the borders of American territories. Human life across the face of the earth has become cheap.

The leadership gap is real. Many times in my life, I have wished that America could have resisted the urge to intercede in any one of a dozen international situations but America did not and the fact is, our world has been shaped by the ideals of American democracy.

If Biden wins, we, as a species, will have the opportunity to begin restoring a sense of compassion in the world and, for better or worse, America will resume a leadership role, if he loses? We abandon efforts to conserve energy, global warming proceeds unhindered, human beings become a class of livestock, the idea of international asylum for refugees disappears, children remain in cages, borders remain closed, our international friends and allies begin the work of carrying on without us. All is lost.

When you go to the polls, if you haven’t already, please remember, there are 120 people (and that’s a conservative estimate) who have your name tag on their mud suit. They are depending on you to cast that vote on their behalf. They can’t do it themselves. You may not feel that you, personally, should be expected to assume this responsibility, but your country asked for this job.

America took this leadership role and made it part of our national identity. Maybe we can change that after we’ve lived up to our promises for this one election. But for now, for this election, you are voting for 120 people in that polling place today, or tomorrow or Tuesday. Don’t shy away from that. We asked for this role, it’s up to all of us to take it seriously and do the job well.


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