27 July 2008

The Election is Over

In a stunning twist, the US presidential election has been decided by Germany!

You might think I'm kidding, but let me tell you something: outside the United States, the election is completely over and has been for months. There is only one candidate, and that's precisely why he gets treated like he's the President already. The world is over Bush, and so is the US public (which is why the primaries started so incredibly early).

All over every network during Obama's Berlin speech was the sight of Germans waving American flags. As Jon Stewart drily noted, "something's wrong with their US flags ... they're not on fire!"

I would hope that all Americans -- or at least the majority who are not blinded idealogues -- would have swelled with a rare moment of national pride seeing that. It was inspiring to say the least. It's nice when the rest of the world likes us, and it's not only nice, it's important. Important as in crucial.

George Bush's diasterous presidency may have one upside, and it would be this: he's show definitively that American can't "go it alone" anymore. In point of fact, America rarely ever actually "went it alone" unless crazy Republicans were in charge (Nixon, Reagan, Shrub) and generally did act in concert with others most of the time, at least in my lifetime (Ford, Carter, Bush Sr., Clinton). The biggest blunders in America's history with the world came almost without exception when a President tried to go it alone, starting with Vietnam, through the Bay of Pigs, the fall of the Shah and other US-puppet dictators, the failed Iran Hostages rescue, Reagan's pointless Central American misadventures, Clinton's one-man affair coverup and of course the multiple debacles the US finds itself in today.

Obama, all by his lonesome, showed that the right man can bring America both back up in the world and foster a generational wave of change that restores America's image as the world's leader rather than the world's policeman (a job we were never particularly good at anyway). The image of those American flags waving in Berlin has given a lot of Americans, particularly those in "the heartland," something they didn't even know they were starving for: respect.

There's a lot riding on this election, and perhaps some people think the opinions of "furriners" shouldn't play a role in the decision Americans must make. But the fact of the matter is that the world is watching, ever hopeful that the US will end this madness, but prepared to supercede us if necessary (and they are in a position to do exactly that, which would have serious consequences to the US way of life).

Think about that as you enter the voting booth this November, and visualise the US flags in Berlin. If you seriously want the US back in the saddle again, the choice is obvious: Vote with the world.

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