Thursday, September 25, 2008


Ahhhh, McCain and Obama. Palin and – well I haven’t heard Biden’s name in awhile. People here don’t normally mention McCain to me, but Palin is definitely mentioned. And Palin even found stories of herself in the South African papers—something I have not seen much with McCain.

Well, the story here is the same. Choose any continent outside of North America—even scientists and technicians in Antarctica—and Obama and Biden would win. Choose America and the question is up in the air. Who will win? Most are scared to say. Most think they know.

I had an interesting conversation about America. Remember that as a broad generalization (of course there are exceptions to generalizations; it’s a generalization) or in my experience, you receive anti-American comments in more developed nations. In my experience you don’t get it as much from developing nations. You can, but not when you’re among the poor or the working class. You have to hang with the minority—the elite. (exceptions can be found, say, in Middle Eastern countries for instance) Now, I didn’t realize it but you could say I was with a person whose income is above the median and average in South Africa. I was at a fundraiser for an NGO that works with kids in Grades 10-12 from a township outside our wine country. The group was mostly white but I’m used to that. At this ball/formal, a man at my table heard the word “American” and he started going off on Americans and how they are ignorant, stupid, don’t know anything about the world outside of America, etc. It’s all stuff I’ve heard before and it doesn’t phase me. In relative terms it’s true: we know less about the world than they know about the world. We speak fewer languages. We’re less informed from a broad perspective of opinions. The list goes on. I had invited an American to the formal, and I think she was getting offended. The guy was using foul language as well. And one South African was embarrassed because it is a common thing for South Africans (not the Black ones) to bash America or Americans.

Now, I rather enjoyed hearing his comments because I like to know what people think and to change people through engaging and exposing. I said to him that perhaps what he is calling anti-Americanism is really anti-Bushism as I think I’ve experienced in my travels over the past few years. People still treat me kindly, generally. He said that may be true but the next election will tell if that’s true.

If his issues and problems and concerns and complaints are really with the current administration, then Obama will win. And it is anti-Bushism. If his complaints are with Americans—we are mostly (meaning more than 50%) jingoistic and xenophobic and Amerocentric, then McCain will win, and I was wrong. By this he meant that it is a type of concurrence or agreement with the current administration or policies (as Bush endorsed McCain).

Now there are Americans who will disagree with you saying they are voting for McCain and not necessarily supporting the current regime or policies. And that may be true. But seen from an outsider’s relative perspective, a vote for Obama is a vote that goes farther against current policies and actions than a vote for McCain does. So for those Americans, their reasons for voting for McCain are prioritized over their disdain for certain current policies (if there is disdain; if not there is no problem).

So we both said we will wait and see if the majority of Americans are different than he believes and actually independently thinking enough to recognize things that are done that are wrong and to use their vote to counteract it. To him this would mean it was Bush’s administration. Otherwise, he thinks that Bush’s administration is really just a reflection of the American people and their current philosophy, values, and practices. In some way, that is always true as a politician must be elected somehow, either by intent or neglect, by commission or omission, somehow. So it may represent that some people don’t care and don’t participate and out of the remainder this is who was chosen.

So we wait and see. But to him and others, the fact that the polls don’t rate Obama higher already answers their question.

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