I'm in another airport, this time headed to Canada for a speaking engagement. I will be there on election night. I am planning rejoice in the company of North Americans who want regime change here just as much as I do.
Every day brings news of the world's interest in seeing Barack Obama elected U.S. President. For instance, the FRANCE 24/Harris Interactive poll, in partnership with the International Herald Tribune, found overwhelming support for Obama, with three-quarters of respondents in France and German preferring him, two-third of the Spanish and Balkan respondents, and half of the British. In contrast, support for John McCain ranged from 1 to 12 percent, averaging five percent across the board. The same poll reported that about a third of respondents (less in Britain, more in Germany) were either "extremely" or "very" interested in the U.S. Presidential election (in contrast to 79 percent of Americans), with 34 to 46 percent reporting they were "somewhat" interested.
Other than the few names that appear with regularity in commercial news (Brown, Sarkozy, Medvedev), how many elected leaders of other nations can you name? I'm embarrassed to count. Did you know that Canada had an important national election less than two weeks ago? The Conservatives stayed on top, so my friends there are extremely dismayed about the cuts to arts funding and other important public services which are expected to continue despite considerable protest. Do voters in the U.S. care what happens across the border?
Americans are famous for our short-sightedness: in general, we find it hard to see beyond our borders unless our troops are stationed there. But what we do affects the world, and for the last eight years, the impact of the Bush administration has been disastrous. We have not been good neighbors—more like the crazy and combative guy who leaves rusted car bodies in his front yard and poisons his neighbor's cat. This government has made being an American abroad a much more painful experience, as perplexed citizens of other nations call on visitors from the U.S. to explain why we are behaving so badly and causing others so much pain. We can blame Bush, but that is just another way of blaming ourselves for electing him.
There's a fun site called If The World Could Vote which at this writing records more than 675,000 votes from 211 countries, 87 percent for Obama. The site's explanation says it concisely: "The president of the United States is a powerful man, probably the most powerful person on the planet. So everyone seems to have an opinion on who should be the next president of the United States."
If you aren't already convinced to vote for Barack Obama on the merits, on his evident superiority to John McCain and McCain's alarming running mate, or just for the thrill of having a balanced and integrated personality representing our nation to the world, please do it to demonstrate that you care what our world neighbors think about us, that you want the bad-neighbor policy to end. This is a smaller and smaller planet every day. Wouldn't you like people of other nations to be aware of our interconnectedness when they vote? In far greater numbers than residents of the United States, they are, and they are speaking with one voice about what will increase their sense of safety and well-being.
When you go to the voting booth, for the sake of the world community, think globally and vote for Barack Obama.