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US Politics

November / America’s Roll of the Dice

Some Obama opponents have asked “why is a foreigner so interested in our election?”

A Question

A common belief is one that suggests it is easier to see more clearly from the outside looking in than that perspective in reverse. As an Australian who decided to strongly support Senator Barack Obama’s candicacy and comment on issues which surround the US Presidential election, some Obama opponents have asked in article comments, “why is a foreigner so interested in our election?” Their inference was obvious.

The Answer

It’s something completely overlooked by those who could be classed as America’s most insular citizens.  To describe them, a less than complimentary tag, namely,”hillbillies” is the first which springs to mind? (You know the ones I mean. The Mac / Bush yokels). I’m not even sure what these terms mean myself, but they sound hickish enough for the point I am trying to make. Hickish? 

If the current state of affair is any guide, it appears there are quite a few of these GW Bush / McCain empty vessels sandwiched inside a piece of real estate bordered by two Oceans, Canada and Mexico. A place referred to in its abbreviated form as – America. To save ink or typing some call it the USA. It looks good in 3 colours on a tee shirt too!

Come to think of it, if an insularity test was applied to the GOP presumptive nominee John McCain to assess his  knowledge of international affairs, the handle “Hillbilly”, would be a perfect fit. A few days ago this geographically ignorant man (in terms of the office he’s seeking)  referred to Czechoslovakia when attempting to disparage Senator Obama’s upcoming plans to visit Europe. Senator McCain, what planet have you been living on? Czechoslovakia no longer exists. It was peacefully divided to create two independent countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia on the first of January 1993.  

A couple of facts for the extremely insular and seemingly brain dense McCain’s of this world to consider.

Fact: What happens in America touches every corner of the world.

Fact: What happens in the Oval Office can change the world.

We as citizens of other countries (aka foreigners) would be out of our cotton pickin’ minds if we didn’t study or follow what was happening in the United States, the world’s superpower. In particular making an effort to learn something of it’s history, its people, its multiculture and its form of national government, warts and all. As the MGM movie title suggests the “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”.  Aah! Clint Eastwood you were so good as a hombre!

This is especially important and revealing during the lead up to the election of any new American President. The major Party’s primaries can provide a real insight  into the type of person and attitudes which a successful candidate is likely to take to the White House. Non – Americans who follow US politics understand that it is not only US citizens who gain or lose by the decisions emanating from behind  the most powerful desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Those ripples spread far and wide around the globe. 

However this is an Office whose reputation has been tarnished during the Clinton and Bush administrations for reasons now well understood by the public. With that era ending in November, there is renewed hope that the right incumbent leading by example, will rebuild respect for the Office of the next and 44th President of the United States.

 Difficult Times

Tangible proof is the effect, impact and horrific cost of American foreign policy decisions during the past eight years. Presidential decisions which have led to two wars,  thousands of miles apart and a still fruitless attempt to locate, capture or eliminate the Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden (now believed to be trialing cave holidays in Afghanistan). The only consolation being, that his hiding like a mole underground sounds like a form of imprisonment for life. He would be a lot more comfortable in an American prison. Delete that comment, he wouldn’t survive day one.

To add insult to injury speaking with reference to the US domestic economy, we must note the incompetent Bush administration’s failure to rein in corrupt lending practices which led to massive overborrowing, subsequently triggering the subprime mortgage crisis. The tsunami effect of which is now being felt worldwide.

A World Inextricably Linked

After all of these years, and the young lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, what has been gained? Zero. Clear evidence as to why this general election for President of the United States in November is the most important in our living memory. I say this regardless of which bit of terra firma any of us call home.

Many people have reacted to sentiments expressed in “The Power of One” a profile article I wrote on Barack Obama in February. In it I suggested that this time, it felt like an election for a World President. One of the first emailed comments came from a 63  year old gentleman in Norway saying he felt exactly the same. I am sure many people do.

Worldwide Consequences and Costs 

In Australia, this country’s involvement in Iraq eventually cost the government their right to govern after 10 years in power. Last November they were unceremoniously  thrown out. Australia’s Prime Minister Howard made history in becoming only the second Prime Minister since 1901 to lose his electorate and therefore his place in the National Parliament.

The change of government wasn’t due to poor  economic management. On the contrary  Australia has been running annual budget surpluses for the past 10 years thanks to China’s demand for our natural resources.  A revenue stream we can’t rely on over the  long term, with global warming going to change the whole debate about the means of achieving sustainable, affordable power generation.

The government’s exit was primarily as a result of its failure to appreciate that the ANZUS treaty between Australia and the United States, does not demand that this country’s Prime Minister cowtow to a reckless fool of a US President. Especially one who wanted to wage war against someone on grounds that were not absolutely proven. Loyalty to an alliance is a very fine and necessary thing – blind loyalty is downright stupid in the extreme.

In Australia we don’t often reward stupidity in politics. We give ’em the boot. (All together now sing, “Hit the road Jack and don’t ya come back no more, no more, no more, no more, hit the road Jack and don’t ya come back no more!”) Our former Prime Minister’s first name was John, to my knowledge no one ever called him Jack – until now. It really doesn’t suit him.

In less than 3 months American voters will face their own political dilemma. McCain or Obama for President? Overseas the polls indicate that we foreigners have already made our choice. It’s Obama by a country mile. Come November, I believe American voters will feel the same.

Let’s hope the Democrats are on full alert, to make sure the electoral dice isn’t loaded with skullduggery this time.

Go Obama Yes We Can.



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  1. John, next time you are asked, why you have such an interest in our politics. You can also add, does the U.S. not involve (rather by encroachment at times) itself in the politics, policies and numerous other matters of foreign countries as well?
    Of course, your point was clearly understood and oh, your humor. Thanks. Hopefully, it will sink into many minds that are willing to open.

    Posted by Una rosa amarillo | July 23, 2008, 5:00 am