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06 November, 2012

The US Election comes to Bethlehem University

The U.S. Elections: On the Campaign Trail

Mark Johnson, Chief of Economic Department at US Consulate General - JerusalemWith the U.S. presidential elections underway and the Democratic incumbent Barack Obama in office fighting for another four years against the Republican presidential nominee Mr. Mitt Romney, students at Bethlehem University had a glimpse of just how the elections in the United States really work.

Mr. Mark Johnson, Chief Economic Section Representative from the U.S. Consulate General, brought with him a wealth of knowledge to students at Bethlehem University about the current electoral process. Mr. Vin Traverso, Public Diplomacy Officer, and Ms. Suzan Qaryouti, Senior Cultural Affairs Specialist, were also present for this informative session.

Welcoming the staff were Dr. Michael Sansur, Executive Vice President; Dr. Lina Khamis, Humanities lecturer; and staff members from the Development and Communications Offices.

Mr. Johnson explained to the students about the process and hard work that each presidential candidate goes through, from making phone calls, advertising, to reaching out to potential voters. He also recalled how at one point in his career he played a role in helping a candidate with her campaign.

Mr. Johnsom explained the difference between "blue" and "red" states and how certain states tend to favor a particular party or nominee that party. Dr. Khamis inquired to a query from one of her students about how such a democratic country could only have two parties. Excited about the question, Mr. Johnson outlined the importance of independent parties and their role while also emphasizing that there the road is always open for any new party to run in the race, as long as they have enough public support. It was a reminder yet again of how democracy always prevails, no matter how turbulent times may be, when it comes to selection your senators, judges, or president; it is always the voter that counts.

As Palestinians who had just finished casting their votes for different municipalities in the West Bank, one would recall the opening statement of Mr. Johnson of how critical it was to vote: “I understand that everyone has their own problems, maybe you're upset because of a hole on the road, lack of classes at your school, waiting two hours in line, but that is why exactly you have to go out there and vote, to make the change you hope for.”



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