If the Whole World Could Vote
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that if the world could vote in the American elections, Barack Obama would be the winner. The world at large – with the possible exception of al Qaeda who ardently champion McCain’s candidacy – is sick to the back teeth of Bush, his policies, his wars and his Doctrines. But what is a bit unusual is the degree of Obamamania sweeping the world, with hope, with excitement, with jubilation. For the most part the world is looking forward to Change with a capital O.
So, at a time when American standing in the world has hit an all-time low, a small taste of what Obama could bring about and restore America’s reputation, a selection of excepts from comments around the world, and please feel free to add a few from your own neck of the woods, should you happen to be outside the borders of the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave:
From New Zealand:
…I tried to donate some money to his election campaign. This day he was asking everyone to send $5. I figured that wasn't too much to pay to ensure that I could turn on CNN and see more of the man I love, rather than John McCain, who looks two seconds away from a coronary. Unfortunately I was prevented from doing so because you had to prove you were a United States citizen to cough up. Americans may not be afraid of the Taleban, but apparently the thought of my foreign influence on their president is too much to take.
Obama is a truly different kind of leader, not just because he is hot - although, Lord knows, that is quite a change - but because you know he has an open mind and has been exposed to new ideas all his life. I like the fact that the leader of the free world has seen some of the whole world and experienced different cultures, rather than emerging from a large piece of snow with a nice view of Russia. I like the fact that Obama has talked and associated with Bill Ayers, the 1962 anti-war activist. He might be extreme but his insights into the $200b Iraq war effort might be worth listening to.
“New York or Durham?" asks Larry the "visibility co-ordinator". When we reply "Sydney" he is startled. "What, all of you?" he asks. "Yes, all of us," we reply.
How eight Australians have ended up in the tiny city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, volunteering for the last eight days of the Obama campaign is a long and complicated tale - but here we are. We repeat our story many times but they still marvel… an American friend had, over dinner, invited us to campaign with him in New Hampshire. My sister and I replied "yes" immediately and the troupe of volunteers grew, eventually including my other sister from Melbourne.
There are other international volunteers around. So far we have met a Swede and a Welshman. The cries of amazement that greet our group seem to be based on the fact that there are so many of us and we have come so far. Americans seem to think that Australia is in some other universe and that spending 24 hours in a plane is medieval torture. They are strange people but they deserve a really good president. So does the rest of the world.
…while there is no certainty that Obama’s approach of opening diplomatic channels with Iran alongside the threat of targeted sanctions would work, it would be a welcome break from the current administration’s policies… He has advocated greater accountability and conditionality when it comes to aid for Pakistan as well as bolstering its democratic institutions. McCain, given past support for Pervez Musharraf and his apparent reluctance to apply pressure on Asif Zardari’s government, seems more inclined to that old US approach, expediency…With a resurgent Russia, belligerent Iran and global financial meltdown, a deliberate, multilateral approach is essential. It explains the enthusiasm worldwide for an Obama presidency. That seems to include most Indians.
A massive majority of Canadians would like to see Senator Barack Obama win the American presidential election to be held on November 4, 2008 according to a new national poll of 2,025 Canadians conducted by Environics Research. This continues a pronounced trend among Canadians over the past decade toward favouring Democratic presidential candidates over Republicans. The survey shows that seven in ten Canadians (69%) would most like to see Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama win the election, compared to just 15 percent who would prefer to see Republican John McCain win the election. Another 13 percent have no opinion or do not favour either candidate, and two percent volunteer other candidates.
From France (Le Monde):
Aucun hésitant, aucune voix discordante, parmi eux. Ils ont 15, 18, 20 ans. Ils habitent les "Pâquerettes", une cité de la banlieue parisienne, à Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine). Et, ce vendredi 31 octobre, à quatre jours de l'élection présidentielle américaine, le scrutin n'a plus qu'un seul visage, au pied de leurs barres : celui de Barack Obama…
(No hesitation, no discordant voice among them. They are 15, 18, 20 years old. They live in the "Pâquerettes", in a Parisian suburb, in Nanterre in the Hauts-de-Seine. And this Friday, October 31, with four days to go before the American presidential election, they are looking only for one face, one foot on the pedal, that of Barack Obama.)
Michele G:J'ai vote! Je viens de voter a San Diego (on peut voter en avance)! Je suis citoyenne americaine depuis 44 jours et je suis heureuse de pouvoir participer a ce vote historique.
La ligne etait longue ce matin au centre de vote et il m'a fallu plus d'une heure et demi pour enfin remettre mon enveloppe cellee a une souriante volontaire qui m'a donne un autocollant 'I voted' et m'a souhaite bonne journee.
(I’ve voted! I went to vote in San Diego (where one can vote early)! I’ve been an American citizen for 44 days, and I’m happy to be able to participate in this historic event. The line was long this morning at the voting center and I had to wait more than an hour and a half to finally hand in my sealed envelope to a smiling volunteer who gave me a sticker, ‘I voted’, and wished me a nice day.)
Nihil: Il doit gagner.
M. Obama est le représentant d'une Amérique historiquement métissée. Il n'est ni noir ni blanc, il est Américain.
(He must win. Mr. Obama represents an historic American transformation. He’s neither black, nor white. He is American.)
jupia: rien n'est certain. Je souhaite que Obama gagne.
(Nothing is certain. I just hope Obama wins.)
francois: 'It ain't over till it's over' ...
... comme dit le célèbre joueur de baseball des NY Yankees, Yogi Berra. Peut-être suis-je pessimiste, mais je m'inquiète à mesure que McCain remonte dans les sondages.
(As that famous NY Yankee baseball player, Yogi Berra said. Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but it makes me nervous how McCain is climbing in any polls.) Two weeks to go!Go Barack, go!!!
From the UK:
Foreign volunteers are not uncommon: I am one of three in this office from Britain, and there are two from Denmark. My listening material is public radio and my coffee comes from a Bill of Rights mug. When the cup is filled, the rights lost under President Bush's Patriot Act disappear. I am about to spend a week with the greatest grassroots political organisation in American election history:
Me: “Hello, my name is Tom and I work on the Obama campaign. Can I talk to you about voting by post?”
Voter: “Hey, you know what? I've already had a couple of calls explaining it.”
Me: “Awesome!” (American enthusiasm is infectious) “And have you made up your mind about the election?”
Voter: “Well, I've actually been canvassing with you guys.” Pause. “And my brother was a Democrat senator. Also, in the US we call it 'voting by mail', not 'by post'.”
The area is a mix of immigrant communities. El Mexicana minimart sits beside the New Saigon restaurant and Paul Lopez, the local councilman, proudly tells me that they have a mosque and a Buddhist temple. His card is translated into Vietnamese.
Opposite his offices, a shabby bungalow flies the US flag at half mast. Mr Jenkins tells me that they are probably a “gold-star family”, with a son killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“It's my job to get all these people here to vote,” he says. “I don't pretend that with Obama things will change overnight: I know expectations are too high. But after eight years of Bush, we can't let our country down for another term.”
At 109, Amanda Jones is too frail to go to the polls on Tuesday, so she voted early by post last week. Her father was born a slave in Texas and herded sheep until he was freed at the age of 12. She cast her ballot for Barack Obama. “I feel good about voting for him,” Jones said.
Her family helped her to obtain an absentee ballot. “It’s awesome to me that we have such a pillar of our family still with us,” said Brenda Baker, her 44-year-old granddaughter. “It’s awesome to see what she’s done, and all her hard work, and to see that she may be able to see the results of that hard work.”
The Obama campaign has identified a new species among this voting block – the “sporadic voter”, who generally doesn’t bother to turn out for elections but appears to be making an exception for this one.
The electoral and demographic map of America is shifting in ways that will be fully understood only as the votes are counted – and the world is helping to give it a shove. British supporters have been flocking to join Obama’s volunteers. Tony Underwood, a history student at Nottingham University, has been campaigning for Obama in Pennsylvania.
“Barack Obama is an inspirational figure. What happens here will cross the Atlantic,” he predicted. “Everybody who volunteers feels that they are part of something great, that this is their campaign. People believe they can influence politics.”
Latinamericans prefer Obama over McCain three to one.
The poll which covers 18 countries of the region with 1.000 to 1.200 interviews per country to adults over 18 with an error margin of 2.8 to 3 percentage points shows that 40% of Latinamericans declare to know about, and follow the US presidential election.
Obama is the favourite candidate in Dominican Republic, 52%; Costa Rica, 43%; Uruguay and Brazil, 41%; Argentina, 36%; Chile, 32%; Mexico, 29%; Paraguay, Ecuador and Colombia, 27%; Venezuela, 26%; Peru, 23% and El Salvador, 22%. Below 20% come Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala and Honduras.
McCain is the choice in Colombia, 19%; El Salvador, 16%; Mexico, 11%; Brazil, 10%; Honduras, 9%; Costa Rica, Guatemala and Venezuela, 8%; Ecuador, 7%; Panamá, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay and Nicaragua, 6%; Bolivia, 5%; Peru, 4% and 3% in Argentina.
Ms Zam Obed has decided that on November 4, she and her family will put on "Barack Obama T-shirts" in readiness for an Obama win in the US presidential election scheduled for the same date. That will be on Tuesday.
There is a valid reason behind Ms Obed's excitement. It lies in the indelible mark that Mr Obama's last visit to Kibera two years ago left on members of a women's group she is in charge of.
Now Ms Obed is over the moon at the sheer mention of the man's name. "I feel very proud to be associated with this place. We expect that the next time Obama comes to Kenya, he will also visit Mchanganyiko centre and hopefully as US president," she says.
When Obama came to Kenya in August 2006 and went on a tour of Kibera slums, he spent time at Patricia Hall of the Mchanganyiko Women Self-Help Group…the fever of excitement that has pervaded the place since then [is] thanks to the never-ending talk among members about the Illinois Senator's last visit, more than two years ago.
They always talk about his charisma, encouraging remarks, and the generally warm attitude he expressed. He was later to declare when addressing Kibera residents: "Any country that develops does so because women are given opportunities and any that does not is because women are oppressed."
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