The International Writers Magazine Comment - US Primaries
do Europeans think about the US Primaries?
the average foreigner what a caucus is and hell probably think
it is another variation of a hamburger. Ask him about the primaries
and without doubt his response will relate it to a university campus
in Ohio. Why they go bananas practically half way through a presidential
term to start advertising for a new one is crazy, said Pedro a
taxi driver when I asked him what he thought about the forthcoming elections
in the United States. They should wait until a few months before
the end of the term and then start the campaign. What a waste of money!
he continued. My butchers reaction was slightly different. Who
the hell cares who wins, its always the same. Whether a Democrat
or Republican gets in, the first thing they say is that theyre
going to make this a better world to live in. Yeah, for them! They dont
care about anybody else!
Every four years, when the United States election campaign takes off
Americans spend the next twelve months thinking of nothing else. Newspapers,
magazines, television chat shows and the average morning coffee break
gossip in downtown Manhattan revolves around who is going to be
the next person to take over at the Oval office.
On the political front, the one who is already in power is trying his
hardest to keep a hand on the tiller with the other poised on the panic
button. The opposition, on the other hand, is in full throttle ahead
to topple the bastard! Soon, the electoral circus begins to hit the
trail across the whole country attacking every household, business,
barber shop, whorehouse, leaving no stone unturned with the usual hoopla
of "My candidate is the best in town. You cant live without
him - or her." The merits and the weaknesses of each will hit the
centre pages by the dozen, from girly magazines and hairdressers leftovers
to the Fortune Five-hundred Readers Only ones. If
George screwed up Iraq, hell sure as hell do the same to Medicare.
Is this for real? Or how about, Kerry never gave up on his buddies
in Vietnam. Hes a real regular guy who knows how to fight for
you. Or, Dean said No to the Iraq war. He was
Theyre so bloody introvert , its pathetic, says
my Spanish dentist. To the average citizen of the outside world, the
only thing that matters is how long will a new president take to realise
that there is just that; an Outside world!
During the whole of the history of United States presidential
campaigns, and this has not changed one bit, most of the issues raised
for future solution are concentrated on present domestic problems. In
a way, this is not unusual or uncommon in democratic countries around
the world. But the United States is no ordinary country. It is and has
been for decades, the most powerful and influential one on the planet.
The United States of America has many weaknesses, and dont we
all know them, but it also has by far a large surplus of virtues. Whatever
decision is taken by its government, whatever industrial product, scientific
discovery or business method is introduced across the nation, the rest
of the world clambers for the same and is always ready to jump on the
bandwagon. And the beauty of it is that the USA is generally willing
to accommodate and promote its achievements worldwide. Yet elections
are something else. Most candidates do not really appreciate the power
and influence that the country has on the rest of the world. In fact,
international geopolitics is the last thing on their plate when they
are flying or bussing around the country waving the Stars and
Stripes and letting off balloons at the stadiums.
When the time comes for promises on action directed at international
issues they will undoubtedly relate to the trouble of the month
which is usually the one that is continually hitting the news headlines.
If you go back in history, just a short while, Hitlers threat
to Europe in the thirties, the Cold War through to the eighties,
and now terrorism and the Middle East are the kind of foreign situations
that the American electorate can relate to. They have been taught by
the politicians to do so. They can link the crisis, and it usually is
a crisis as a threat to their American way of life. On a parallel, they
are influenced by consistent media bombardment of these themes. So when
it comes to decision time, Aids in Africa, Global Warming or depletion
of the Brazilian rain forests mean nothing to Mrs. Jones, who works
in an Arkansas beauty saloon or Mr. Woodley, who runs a bakery in Minnesota.
When they decide on Dean, Kerry, Bush or whoever, the vote will go for
the candidate that offers to bring back the boys from Baghdad
Lets continue with this issue. The American public were brainwashed
to think that the President of the United States actually had a direct
control over what was happening in Iraq. They believed that a wrong
or right decision could affect their own particular life style. Yet
look what happened. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction. The non-discovery
has seriously undermined the present US governments judgement
of the situation and damaged its credibility. So what? Has it really
affected life back in the US? Apart from hysterical security measures
and grieving relatives of dead soldiers, not much. Mrs. Jones or Mr.
Woodley will be no better or worse off.
But it has certainly turned the rest of the world upside down. Suicide
bombers, travel restrictions, uncertainty on future world prosperity
or lack of, are of more concern to the massive world population. These
are real issues that can have a real catastrophic effect if equivocal
future resolutions are taken by a new US presidency regardless of the
political convictions. Every newly elected US President goes through
a learning curve when it comes to what happens outside the countrys
boarders. Sure, they are briefed until the cows come home on foreign
policy, but nevertheless stumble into a pit the moment they open their
mouths. Remember the famous statement of Axis of Evil? What
good did that do? Not much except that it upset half the world.
The world respects a US President, whether they like him or not. But
does the US President respect the rest of the world? That is the real
question that the US electorate should ask before they place their votes
on a incumbent candidate to the White House when he presents his electoral
program on foreign affairs.
© James Skinner. Feb 9th 2004.
Part One here
all rights reserved