The BBC today released the results of their presidential preference survey of 22,500 people in 22 countries. Not surprisingly, the strong preference is for Senator Obama, preferred by nearly 50 percent of respondents. Senator McCain, by contrast, is preferred by just 12 percent of those surveyed. The survey was conducted before the conventions so the impact of those events (along with the naming of Senator Biden and Governor Palin to the tickets) is not factored in (I’m thinking, though, that unlike here, Governor Palin is probably not moving her ticket’s numbers upward).
On one level, the survey is irrelevant; the big margins Senator Obama rolls up in Kenya (where he enjoys an 82 % lead) and elsewhere don’t translate into votes and we – Americans – should make our decision based on what we believe is best for America. “Country first,” as someone has been saying lately.
In fact, I’m sure the GOP has already circulated talking points this morning that makes this survey sound not only irrelevant but actually a negative. Maybe they can send Tucker Bounds out again.
On another level, however, there is some meaningful information here. Despite what the unilateralists among us think, America has always been at its best when we lead the world by consensus and when people – regardless of their voting jurisdiction – generally believe that America is a good citizen of the world and is “trying to do the right thing.”
People around the world don’t respect and admire the US because of our military might or our willingness to “go it alone;” they do so because we represent something – a more open, more free, more egalitarian society – worthy of leadership. That “shining city on a hill” rhetoric actually means something to people whether they live in London or Liberia or Lahore (or Los Angeles, for that matter).
Of all the many, many things I believe this administration has done wrong, the harm they’ve done to our standing in the world ranks first on my list. In their willingness to sacrifice everything – civil liberties, the rule of law, moral leadership, the checks and balances of the Constitution – to the war on terror, they have done more harm than good. I do not believe that we can’t fight the war on terror without these sacrifices and – yes – I believe it’s worth the risk inherent in that statement.
In other words, the opinion of the world should factor into our “country first” calculations. The challenges we face in the next generation – the growing economic, political and military assertiveness of China, the threat of terrorism, environmental protection, economic globalization, energy – are all way beyond our ability to solve on our own or through the spin of an ersatz “coalition”. If we’re going to put America first – no matter what your definition of that slogan is – we’re going to need the good will of the world to get there.
Fortunately, we appear to be in a bit of a “win-win” situation in the current presidential candidates. While there was a strong belief in almost every country that Senator Obama’s election would improve our relations with the world (the countries most optimistic were our NATO allies – Canada (69%), Italy (64%), France (62%), Germany (61%), and the UK (54%) – as well as Australia (62%), along with Kenya (87%) and Nigeria (71%)), no country apparently believes that Senator McCain will make things worse (although only 20% believes he’ll make it better).
Of course, I kind of think that’s more of a judgment on the current administration than a vote of confidence in Mr. McCain.
– Austin marketing plan template fine