Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Decision Time

America, the World's eyes are on you. Never before can I think of an election, anywhere in the world, which has interested so many people in so many countries. Sure, you have the "revolutions" in countries such as the Ukraine, and you had Mandela changing the course of African politics, but when was the last election that could have an impact on any country in the world?

I wouldn't want to impose an outsider's view on our American cousins by telling them who to vote for (vote Obama!), but let's just say that the World is holding its breath on this one. Sure, there will be a bunch of people rooting for McCain, but it is abundantly clear that most of the world is ready for, and wants, Obama. The man seems to be phenomenally (the word phenomenon is carefully chosen) popular worldwide. This election is seen by many as a stark choice for Americans about how they wish to be viewed on the world stage: reactionary, aggressive, "old school", or prepared to take a more balanced, dialogue-based approach. I know it's not that black and white (boom boom) but that's how many seem to view it: is
America going to retreat into its shell or emerge blinking into the light?

It's all very well us outside the
US opining on this, but they have to make a choice of who runs the country, not who the French are going to like most… On that front it seems like a consensus has emerged that Bush hasn't worked for America, so the choice seems to be more of the same (with a twist) or a newer approach. The sneering Republicans seem keen to paint this approach as socialist, communist, or left-wing; in Europe Obama comes across as pretty centrist, maybe even right-of-centre. What would Dennis Kucinich think about Obama being painted as being at the left of the Democratic party?

Policy-wise, it seems from afar that both campaigns have been a little "fuzzy" on the details of some of their policies, and it's acknowledged that McCain is stronger in a few areas than Obama. But who is most likely to have a "government of all the talents" (to nick a phrase from Gordon Brown)? Surely not the cranky old man with the crazy lady sidekick?

Fundamentally, regardless of policy, attacks, lie and counter lie, what comes across to me is the different ways that the campaigns have been run. Barack Obama has run a wonderful campaign that seems to feed upon the energy of the American people, with the overall message that change, hope, whatever you put your mind to, can be achieved if people pull in the same direction. His campaign feels like a movement, yes you can say cult, something more important than a political campaign. I suspect that we are seeing our generation's JFK: someone who can transcend politics, energising people around the world in a positive way. In complete contrast, the McCain campaign has seemed to be mean-spirited, nasty, and designed to do whatever it takes to get him into the White House, with everything else unimportant. They look down on terms like elitist, liberal, socialist, throwing around terms like "community organizer" as if they are swear-words. One campaign is inclusive, the other exclusive (in many ways): I know who I'd vote for.

America, I'm holding my breath. Many, many people will be depressed tomorrow morning if we wake up and hear that the cranky old man and crazy shooting lady are taking over the world.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Mark said...

Damnit, I've just remembered I've got "Republicans for Voldemort" bumperstickers... oh well too late now.

I also received an invite to a political fundraiser for Kucinich hosted by... Eddie Izzard, which was a bit weird...

3:32 pm  

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