The Dance of Donkeys and Elephants in a Global Village
The heat and dust over the US elections has finally settled and those of my friends who just could not understand why non Americans are getting so worked up about it, can breathe easy.For us Indians who are force fed the same recycled debate on corruption every night on news channels, the US elections provide welcome variety and perspective.Last time around I had followed the election while caring for my one year old late at night in wintry Holland but this time around, I had more time and a wider array of gadgets to seamlessly follow the action.Having Fox News on TV only added spice to the couscous!(Obama is exotic after all and so is Mormonism).
The president of US is still the most powerful man in the world(Mr Xi Jinping will get 12 years to change that!), the head of an incredibly influential soft power, not to speak of military and economic power. So isn’t it important that all of us earthlings have some opinion on the matter,we have many on obscure European soccer teams after all, so “not having a horse in the race” is lazy logic at best.A BBC poll showed people the world over favored a second term for Obama, except in Pakistan of course, so apparently the elections matter.
There is this video of Obama breaking down while thanking his superlative campaign team which is available on the internet.It shows him openly weeping in gratitude and emotion and shows him at his vulnerable best in his moment of victory.This is not the love struck Obama singing peans to Michelle but the most powerful man in the world being simply human.We in India have seldom seen such a sight,our PM speaks precious little ,so as not to offend the Sopranos. And therein lies the burning question of leadership. Whether Obama is a great leader, time will judge but he certainly comes out as the far better leader, relatively, when compared to Romney(Bush a long nightmare, even for non Americans,remember?).
So why did Romney lose? Simply put, a country needs a President not a CEO. Romney’s refusal to disclose his tax returns,his 47% remark,his position on abortion and gay rights,his posturing on immigration alienating the huge Latino vote,not taxing the super rich,his shuffle to the right during the primaries and sprint back to centre in the final stretch,his numerous flip flops,his hawkish stand on China,Russia and Iran,his past record or being the typical capitalist,his mormon faith(a source of great incredulity to to an atheist like me), the laundry list is full of dirty linen.
One of the most intriguing criticism of Obama was that he was trying to preside over the decline of America, a sort of managed downfall.Saying so may be taboo in US but I believe Obama correctly and honestly feels that America must play a dignified but diminished role in world affairs and not try to bully its way through as Bush did or as Romney was hardwired to.Obamas Middle East trip, which Romney called an apology tour was a great act of humility and reconciliation in a world rapidly turning multipolar.Playing super-cop is not the best solution to the worlds problems but the arms lobby does have a perverse way of selling wars!
Obama has shown himself to be a reasonable and moderate man, picking the battles he wants to fight while staying away from others.He has not taken it on himself to rid the world of Islamic fundamentalism, instead adopting the pragmatic route of propagating education among girls and championing women’s rights especially in the Islamic world.Obama’s relatively balanced stand on the Palestinian issue and his sticking to economic sanctions in Iran are a case in point.
Romney mocked Obama over environment in his RNC speech but only betrayed himself to be a climate change denier and there can be no greater sin for a presidential candidate.Obama’s commitment to renewable energy as opposed to dirty shale gas is worth commending.This is a president that takes global environmental issues seriously.It’s another matter that after Al Gore told the world “An Inconvenient Truth”, the environment has been deemed to be the turf of Democrats and therefore, a cesspool of partisan politics of Washington.How much political capital Obama is willing to spend on environmental issues remains to be seen and will be a key part of shaping his legacy, something he is quite mindful of.
Obama’s plan to reduce nuclear warheads to a deterrent level is something thats plain common sense but again at loggerheads with the interests of many.The Occupy Wall Street movement has gone underground for the moment but Obama’s victory is a great shot in the arm for them.Wall street has spent a lot of money on Romney and the fact that Wall Street is not strong enough to buy a US election is something to celebrate.
For any citizen of the world .the above should be good enough reason to cheer a Obama victory without even venturing into the US domestic issues.For all the talk of rest of the world decoupling with US economy ,it has not happened and a US which continues to be a consumption mothership with a robust spending middle class is good news for the factories of China and the developing world.
And yes, if you were an election junkie you would have seen Clint Dirty Harry Eastwood speaking to a empty chair, live!That sure made me mad as hell!!
A few great films with US political back drop:
- The Contenders
- Fog of War
- Mr Smith Goes to Washington
- All the Presidents Men
- Lions for Lambs
- Wag the Dog
- All the Kings Men(old version)
- Game Change
- Ides of March
- Dr Strangelove