Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Elections from Across the Pond

Congratulations to Barack Obama on his historic presidential victory. It’s been extremely interesting to track the election through the filter of a Western European country. With the world financial crisis and the terrorism threat, people in Spain have been anxiously awaiting the results of the American elections. When we were in France, we actually saw billboards for Barack Obama! For the last week, the Spanish newspaper headlines have been dominated by the American elections. One of our friends joked that none of the first-string Spanish journalists are in Spain; they’re all in America this week. Obama is certainly popular in Europe.

All of this brings up some interesting questions about America’s role. Like it or not, America’s actions have huge ramifications all over the world. Obama raised controversy some months back with his comments about being a “citizen of the world.” The American president, according to his oath of office, must act in the best interests of the American people. In some ways, however, the American president has the effective power of a world president. I’m getting into deep waters here, I realize. I just have to wonder: how much should any head of state, especially one as powerful as America, consider the effects of his actions on other countries? And not just in the sense that these effects can boomerang and affect the interests of the American people. Something to think about.

We’ve had some interesting talks. The other teachers have been sensitive about not starting controversial discussions. The students, on the other hand…I’ve had to explain several times what is meant by a “secret ballot.” You just don’t ask somebody who they voted for!

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