If there was ever a moment in time that could turn the tide of history, and set into motion a set of events that would seal the fate of the global community for the next 4 years, it would be November 2008. If this sounds melodramatic (and I concede it is somewhat), think back to 2000, the year a fella called George W Bush, became president of the United States. Who would have thought, that the world could change so dramatically, in just 4 years? But it did, and it only got worse over the subsequent 4 years.
So, the 36 million dollar question is: what is going to happen this November 2008, when a new US president is voted into office? The amazing thing about presidential elections in the US is that they make the entire world sit up and take notice, in a way that other elections don’t because the actions of American presidents have a tendency to shape and decide what happens in the rest of the world. This was never more evident than, over the presidency of George W Bush, who has left a legacy of destruction, war and disunity globally, a state of affairs that the new occupant of the White House, will have to deal with from day 1.
So who then is really equipped to do the job, and do it in such a way that the damage that has been done to America’s reputation both abroad and amongst even its allies, may be be repaired?
Some say a man called Barack Obama, a black man born to a Kenyan Muslim father and an American white Christian mother has what it takes. Together with his more experienced running mate, Joe Biden, they can bring about change: the word that has defined this election campaign.
On the other hand, there is John McCain, former army man, captured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and his attractive moose hunting, hockey mom, running mate, Sarah Palin, who opposes abortion, even in cases of rape.
Hmmm, this is clearly a tough choice for those hardworking American citizens who have to decide between having a young black man or an older white man, as leader of the free world, and I have to admit, I am more partial to the younger black man…it appeals to my lefty political world view.
But it is scary to think that about 300 million people, well at least those that are eligible to vote, will bring into power, someone who can clearly influence and decide what happens globally, impacting on the lives of 6 billion people. Those American citizens who remember the events of September 11, and who do not wish for any such repeats, will undoubtedly be more partial to someone who articulates a strong militaristic position – one which affirms the tough rhetoric of keeping the nation safe – and going after the ”bad” guys. Those citizens that understand that the military world view – perhaps necessary to some degree since national security is not about making friends – will hopefully choose somebody who will not continue to invade other countries and sanction the killing of innocent citizens, all in the name of going after the ”bad” guys.
So the second 36 million dollar question here is, who will be the best person for the job of the next US president? I have to say I don’t know (despite all my expertise on the subject of politics).
Barack Obama has disappointed already, when the day after he won the primary elections for the democratic party’s nomination, he addresses the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, pledging that he will always look out for Israel’s interests; to ensure that Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, completely ignoring previous United Nations resolutions on this issue.
Furthermore, the fact that some Muslim women wearing scarves at a rally at which he spoke, were asked to move out of the background, where they were visible to cameras behind him, does not bode well in terms of advancing multi-cultural relations in a country which is made up of so many different race, religious and ethnic groups.
Meanwhile, John McCain is a man who is too close to the Bush legacy to imagine that he could distance himself from the disastrous policies of the current administration. Republican presidential candidates are generally more conservative, and Republican presidents have traditionally increased budgets for military expenditures, sanctioned the invasion of other sovereign territories and cut domestic funding for important progressive agendas, on the home front.
The fact that the Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin opposes abortion, sends a very dangerous signal to the US women’s movement, who have worked very hard to win the right to choice for women. The fact that she is supportive of a teenage daughter who has become pregnant out of wedlock, may be commendable, on one level, however, she is basically sending the wrong message to the youth by saying that it’s okay to be sexually active before you turn 18 and it certainly is okay if you become a mother, while you are still a child yourself. For a campaign that is supposed to be driving a family values agenda, this is a very strange position indeed.
In the final analysis, it is a fact that whoever becomes the next president of the United States, will continue to have a very major influence on what happens in the rest of the world. There is not much the rest of us can do about this, except pray and hope that the person will have the wisdom, understanding and insight to know that he cannot keep his country safe by sending US troops to kill the citizens of other countries. He will have to realise that America’s decision to continue with imperialist agenda’s such as having military bases in other nations; dominating the global economic landscape with unsustainable and unfair trade policies and infringing on the civil liberties of people across the world in the name of fighting terror, will only create further resentment amongst other global populations, and make the US more unsafe.
Whoever it is, change will have to mean completely undoing US policies of the last few decades and starting afresh. I hope though it is the young black man, and I hope that he is able to learn from whatever mistakes he has made so far.
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