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Thank goodness for democracy

A former citizen of the Soviet Union contrasts American elections with those in her former homeland.

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The envelope read, "Registered Document Enclosed."

I sighed. "Another sweepstakes."

"Did you sign up for that no-call-no-mail-no-contact-under-any-circumstances list?" My husband asked.

"Yes, I did," I said, opening the envelope.

"Ms. Svetlana Grobman, you've been selected for the 2008 Presidential Campaign Survey."

"It's not a sweepstakes," I informed my husband, wondering how my adopted country managed to survive without me during the years I lived in the Soviet Union. The USA obviously needed me. For example, since I became an American citizen in 1995, I've been called for jury duty four times. I work with people who'd love to serve, but had never been called, including my mother- and father-in-law, who were seventh-generation Americans. Even my husband, now retired, has been called only once.

Similarly, when strangers telephone our house, they always ask for me, although nobody can pronounce my name. Only rarely do they want my husband with his conventional English name, Charles.

"Did anybody else receive a presidential campaign survey?" I asked my colleagues the next day. None had.

That night, I told my husband, "I have to answer that survey. It's signed by a presidential candidate. He's asking me to participate in the democratic process."

"Did he also ask you for a donation?" my husband asked.

I disregarded this remark. Nobody had asked him to participate in the democratic process. Besides, he was used to democratic elections, with a choice among candidates; whereas, during my 39 years in Moscow, I never experienced such a thing.

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