Today has been a proud day for United States. A triumph for the American dream, and for the ideal that all men, women and children are equal regardless of colour, gender or religion. A vindication of the dream that Dr Martin Luther King had more than forty years ago, and a redemption from eight years of leadership that has seen the country slip in the hearts and minds of the world’s population.
And when grandchildren ask me in years to come where I listened to the momentous speech following the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States and the country’s first African-American leader, I will be able to sit them on a lap with a tear in my eye and say, “My dear child, I was on a bus at Heathrow Airport taking me from Terminal 1 to Terminal 5. The reception on the radio kept cutting out, but I heard the occasional word or two.”
I was accidentally included on an email exchange today between a few intelligent Americans talking about Barack Obama’s recent Berlin speech. The back-and-forth quickly turned into a discussion regarding America’s role in the post-World War II rehabilitation of Europe. The Marshall Plan was, after all, one of a series of important measures that helped rebuild the economies and cities of the battered continent. Sure, there may have been a little bit of self-interest, but nobody’s doubting that America stepped up to the plate when it needed to.
But every so often in any debate about foreign policy, someone will make a comment that forces you to question whether you actually read the email correctly. The kind of statement that makes you wonder why Americans are surprised to find out that some people regard them as pariahs in the international arena.
A statement that in this case reads “if it wasn’t for us, 90% of the world would be speaking Russian.”
The 43rd President of the United States is near-universally derided as the worst occupant of the Oval Office, but you’ve got to imagine that even he would have second thoughts about saying something like this.
By the way, I read that an AOL poll on who should be the next president has John McCain ahead on 64%. Will the last person to leave America please turn the lights out?
Today much of the US has gone to the polls to decide which of the candidates will represent the Democrats and the Republicans in the upcoming election. With more than twenty states holding their primaries today, it’s one of the most important days on the road to the 2008 presidential vote.
As a student of political history, and a keen follower of news from the campaign trail, it feels both strange and painful not to be able to play my own small part in the process. Despite being a federal and state tax payer, I remain one of the disenfranchised. Most of the USA knows today as Super Tuesday, but for me it could best be described as, well, Tuesday.
Of course, if there was an election in the UK in November, I would be free to vote despite the fact that I pay no taxes in the UK and the result would have no immediate impact on my day-to-day life.
Perhaps what expats like myself need is some kind of exchange program
me for voting rights? There must be New Yorkers who’ve moved from the Big Apple to South West London, who – like me – aren’t allowed to have any say in any forthcoming election in the country in which they reside. Rather than use our postal/absentee ballots, maybe we should be able to swap votes and have a direct impact on the economic and political system around us?
It’ll be like a timeshare system, without the need for beach towels or factor 25 suncream.
That said, if somebody tries to use my electoral privilege to vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party, there’s going to be trouble.