Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The World is Watching

I don’t know about the rest of you, but no matter which candidate you support in the upcoming US Presidential election, this promises to be one of the most exciting and possibly uplifting contests ever.

If I had to make a bet this morning I would put my money on Barack Obama. John McCain is a principled man with a long record of service but I expect the majority will vote for change, radical change, not the incremental adjustments of an independent-minded Conservative but the kind of change that will alter the course of America’s foreign and domestic policy from the collision course with infamy on which it is now directed, toward embracing the very best of our country.

For better of worse we live on an ever-shrinking planet and the United States is the global superpower. I had dinner last night with a psychologist who works with inmates in a Swedish prison, trying to rehabilitate the promising few. We got to talking about the upcoming election in the USA. She brought up the War in Iraq and I instinctively became defensive, not because I support the War, but as an American living abroad it is impossible for me not to at least offer another point of view when I hear Europeans and others talking about the US.

When I heard what she was saying, however, I realized that it wasn’t any particular policy she was objecting to; she was acknowledging fact that even though other countries in the world do far worse things than ours, when the US enters a war or takes sides, that decision changes everything. That’s not really news, it was the way she said it that struck me, the look in her eyes and the almost plaintive acknowledgement that we all have a stake in this election.

These are difficult times and there is much to do. There are also bad guys out there who make trouble in their own lands and are inclined to make trouble with their neighbors. It can’t be our job to police the world - there are neither the resources nor the public will to do so. But we can lead. We can lead by demonstrating that our political system works. We can lead by practicing fairness in our trade policies, by aggressively addressing the global crisis of the environment and we can lead by demonstrating compassion toward those who do not currently have a stake in the American dream or in any other for that matter.

Labels: , ,