6. How do you think each American Presidential candidate, Barack Obama and John McCain, would impact America's relationship with Africa if elected?
You know, when I first saw this question I thought it would be difficult to answer because I have heard precious little in this campaign from either John McCain or Barack Obama about how they view America’s foreign policy toward Africa. But after taking some time to do a bit of careful research on the subject I’ve come across some very interesting factual information on the subject.
One thing that should be noted is that this U.S. election campaign may be one of the most closely watched political events in human history. As I explained in a previous post about Senator Barack Obama’s July visit to Germany the overseas interest and excitement about this campaign is phenomenal. It is bigger than anything that has come out of American political life for decades and the outcome of this presidential election is important not only for U.S. voters but for citizens around the globe.
It’s hard for Americans living abroad to explain the dirty politics and negative personal attacks that have emerged in this campaign. The level of ‘political attack ads’ are shocking not only for Americans and veteran U.S. political journalists but also for many foreign observers following this election. Darrell M. West of the Brookings Institution describes this aggressive behavior as an all-time low in U.S. political campaign history. If patriotic Americans are truly sincere about improving the country’s standing and image abroad then the Republicans and Democrats need to rein in this toxic behavior at all levels of their respective campaigns. The presidential candidates need to get back to discussing real issues and offering solutions for the mounting problems that we all are facing. The upcoming presidential debate on September 26 would be a good place to start.
The global phenomenon surrounding the Obama campaign for President is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience and I shall not forget it as long as I live. This man’s candidacy has inspired people from all walks of life and has instilled a special feeling of pride and new hope for a better world in many people of every color, ethnicity, and nationality. It is a pity that the Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, an accomplished and distinguished U.S. politician, has not been able to arouse a similar level of excitement and interests in these elections outside of the United States.
I have been approached countless times by people in Germany who want to eagerly discuss the 2008 U.S. election campaign and the historic candidacy of Senator Barack Obama. They want to talk about everything from race relations in the U.S. to how national politics really works in America. This election campaign is especially exciting for my African friends and other people of color in Europe who seem to have adopted Obama’s run for President as if he were the leader of their own respective countries. Obama’s candidacy represents a powerful and symbolic break with these people’s own colonial past and collective dreams for the future. My experiences are something special and I think that we as Americans cannot afford to ignore this important message from so many people from every corner of the world. As reported in several newspapers and TV news networks Europe’s fascination with Senator Obama is unusually high. Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine conducted a reader poll that showed an overwhelming amount of support for Barack Obama over John McCain by a whopping margin of 83%. Newsweek’s new sister publication The Root.com has a related article on Obama’s global appeal titled ‘The World in His Hands’ that is also worth reading as it echoes what we already know here in Europe.
I try to caution people (especially young African men) not to be overly confident about Senator Obama easily winning this election in America but I get the feeling that many people are simply not listening. I enjoy explaining to them how U.S. politics works and the importance of this historical presidential election. Their interest has remained keen over the many months of campaigning and news coverage by CNN and BBC News and our conversations about politics in America and in Africa are lively and informative. My hope is that my young friends and acquaintances will take something from this experience with them back to their own home countries in Africa. That some of these young Africans will become active in the politics of their country and work hard to bring the benefits of a true democracy to their people. I expect to see their names in Africa’s good news headlines someday.
So as far as the presidential candidate Barack Obama impacting the U.S.A.’s relationship with Africa and Africans, he has already done it and he has done it in a very big way. Just the manner in which he has handled himself so far in this very challenging political campaign has inspired many African people for generations to come. If it were left up to the world to choose the next U.S. president, the 2008 race for the White House would already be over. The November polls in the United States would simply be a formality in keeping with our constitution.
I think that good people around the world are desperately trying to send a strong message to Americans, pleading with us to make informed and intelligent decisions about our leaders in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. They are trying to tell us that the person who sits in the Oval Office of the White House come January 21, 2009 is damn important for their lives and future too. These are voices that we must not ignore as American voters, no matter which political party we adhere to, we dare not ignore the pleas and hopes and dreams of our friends and allies around the world. So for the remaining few weeks leading up to the U.S. general election on November 4, 2008 I hope that my fellow Americans behave in a manner that is becoming of a great nation and a great people. It would go a long way in helping to restore the world’s confidence in America and it might help many of us to restore confidence in ourselves.
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