"Can you really do this? Can you really elect Barack Obama President?"
by Terri Buchman
Senator Kerry mentioned that in his speech at the rally this past Saturday in Nashua, NH that he has never seen such worldwide interest in a U.S. Presidential campaign. Kerry said that he has often been questioned by world leaders about the election and if the American voters are really going to make not only history, but historic change this November.
You know what they say to me sometimes? They look at me and they say, "Can you really do this? Can you elect Barack Obama, can you elect this guy?" Yes we can. And that's exactly what I tell them. And when we do my friends, we will have changed history in a bigger way than I think at any time in America and in any Presidential race. We will have given life to our values. We will have given a reality to the American story that reaches all acrosss the planet. And once again an American President's picture will hang in huts in Central and South America, and in Africa and in Asia and in places where they look up to the values that we stand for. That's what's at stake here.
Nicholas Kristof, in his column in the New York Times this morning, agrees with that sentiment. Kristof notes that electing Obama president would signal to the world the elasticity and promise of American democracy. The world would wake up on November 5th with a different view of the United States.
We're beginning to get a sense of how Barack Obama's political success could change global perceptions of the United States, redefining the American "brand" to be less about Guantánamo and more about equality. This change in perceptions would help rebuild American political capital in the way that the Marshall Plan did in the 1950s or that John Kennedy's presidency did in the early 1960s.
Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes, which conducted the BBC poll, said that at a recent international conference he attended in Malaysia, many Muslims voiced astonishment at Mr. Obama's rise because it was so much at odds with their assumptions about the United States. Remember that the one thing countless millions of people around the world "know" about the United States is that it is controlled by a cabal of white bankers and Jews who use police with fire hoses to repress blacks. To them, Mr. Obama's rise triggers severe cognitive dissonance.
"It's an anomaly, so contrary to their expectation that it makes them receptive to a new paradigm for the U.S.," Mr. Kull said.
General Colin Powell said in his endorsement Sunday on Meet the Press that the election of Barack Obama would signal transformational change in America. Senator Kerry said the same thing in January when he endorsed Barack Obama for President. America has a chance not just to turn a new page at home, but a chance to show the rest of the world that we can renew our our values at the ballot box. This will have a profound impact all around the world. It is yet another thing to consider in this historic election year.