Have you ever tried to explain the concept of "tyranny of the masses" to a non-English-speaking man in an unindustrialized country? Have you ever been cornered by a person who lives in a hut, has no plumbing, makes three thousand dollars a year, and wants to know how the USA can go around making demands of other countries when it cannot even get its own elections straight? Stuttered out something vague about the Electoral College to a local guide on a hike in Papua New Guinea?
Have you ever watched as the opinion of your country changed from grudging respect tinged with envy to distaste? Have you seen foreign taxi drivers to academics shake their heads in disbelief at the actions of your very own government?
I have. Most of these moments are immortalized online in one place or another.
I know that next January, we'll all be disappointed, and that the problems our country—and by extension, the world—faces are massive and unmanageable and that on some level, we are all deeply screwed, but seeing the handmade signs that read HOPE, or the WE ARE READY TO BELIEVE AGAIN banner on the window at Gray's Papaya, or the photos of Tanzania on Pernille's blog really does get cynical me all misty-eyed for just a minute.