As we begin 2012 tomorrow, we are already deep into the U.S. elections, and everywhere I go, people are talking about them. Its always interesting to get a perspective from outside the U.S., and I did that right before Christmas. My fried Ann Stone (a die-hard Republican) and I often speak about U. S. politics to audiences pulled together by the U.S. State Department our embassies abroad. Were a good pair because while we disagree on many things, we are not disagreeable, and we do wholeheartedly agree on the need for women around the world to be part of every policy process.

So, we had an hour long conversation via digital video conference- with journalists in Cyprus. These types of conversations always give me a new appreciation for our system. It was fascinating; the journalists knew a lot about U.S. policy issues. We even got a question on provisions in the Defense bill that would affect civil liberties. But, as we described our 2012 calendar to them the multiple primaries, the role of caucuses, especially the Iowa caucus, and the conventions — I was struck by the complexity of our process of electing our President, and how different it is from what occurs in most other countries. While long and drawn out, and extraordinarily expensive, the brutal process does serve to vet candidates for President, both on policy positions but more importantly, on how they handle stress, crisis and adversity.

As we begin 2012, one of my hopes is that the 2012 debate about who will best serve as President is grounded in facts, is civil and helps draw out the very real differences in approach, vision and values between our two parties.