Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obama and the World

One of the comments on this blog enquired as to how the rest of the world would react to an Obama Presidency.

Today's Guardian indicates the excitement Obama is inciting among people outside the US:
Obama has stirred an excitement around the globe unmatched by any American politician in living memory. Polling in Germany, France, Britain and Russia shows that Obama would win by whopping majorities, with the pattern repeated in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
That all sounds nice.

But, wait. They don't just like Obama. Supposedly they would be dismayed with our election of Senator McCain:
If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cheney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.

Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is yearning for.
Here's the question: to what extent does the desire for an Obama Presidency by citizens of other nations influence your own vote?

Recall that our own Declaration of Independence was written to explain to those watching the Revolution from abroad:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station... a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Does "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" require us to vote for Obama given the enormous impact the US President has on the rest of the world?

Or does the more traditional view, that we are entitled to elect our own leaders without outside influence, still hold? Do / should voters in other countries care about how Americans perceive their elected leaders?

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