The View of American Politics from an American Abroad

As the election for the next US president enters the final weeks and heats up, more and more American nutcases crawl out of their paranoid cocoons. As an American expatriate who spent the first forty years of my life at home, and the past nineteen over in Asia, I find all of this troubling, irritating, worrisome, and, somehow, vaguely hopeful.

I’ve been alternately amused and horrified by how McCain and Palin have responded to an economic crisis that is rapidly spreading outward from America to the rest of the world. Starting with McCain’s initial grandstanding (I’m suspending my campaign…) to Palin’s inability to demonstrate that she understands anything about the US economy or the rest of the world generally, they have tried to awaken and energize the worst in the American national character – racism, xenophobia, isolationism, and ethnocentrism in order to avoid addressing the most pressing problem throughout the world today. The images coming out of the Republican rallies are beginning to get frightening. That Americans are openly exhibiting this type of behavior publicly is worrisome. That supposedly responsible journalists and politicians continue to justify the McCain/Palin rhetoric that is bordering on the dangerous is irritating to say the least.

But, there are rays of hope in all this. The hope? The hope is that an African-American is so close to becoming the President of the United States. The country has come so far from my days as a Middle School student supporting JFK and then as a High School student working in the Civil Rights and anti-war movement. Will Barack Obama be the leader who can address the many problems still confronting American society? Maybe not (time will only tell), but he offers the hope that he can energize the young people in America to move from the culture of greed and individualism to the culture of service and participation.

I’ve watched the prestige of America drop precipitously over the past eight years as the Bush/Cheney administration has created a rift between America and most of the rest of the world. Even those countries that have traditionally had ties with us have moved away. Most of my colleagues during my years overseas have been non-Americans, and I have watched them take on anti-American attitudes as the US has pushed its own agenda on the rest of the world. Not surprisingly, they are almost completely pro-Obama because, in part, they see him as willing to develop an era of partnership with the rest of the world. I’ve already done my job and voted in this election. If you are an American overseas, make sure that you put your vote in as well. It’s our responsibility to the United States and the rest of the world.

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~ by drbrucepk on October 10, 2008.

2 Responses to “The View of American Politics from an American Abroad”

  1. Hello Dr. Bruce,
    I enjoy reading your blog.
    Can you enlighten a fellow expatriate on some examples of the following.

    they have tried to awaken and energize the worst in the American national character – racism, xenophobia, isolationism, and ethnocentrism in order to avoid addressing the most pressing problem throughout the world today

    Thank you,
    Dave

  2. Sure, comments like this one of Palin’s that people should pray “that our national leaders are sending them (our military) out on a task that is from God; that’s what we have to make sure we are praying for, that there is a plan, and that plan is God’s plan.” The comments of both McCain and Palin that Obama is palling around with terrorists. Palin’s not stopping people at campaign rallies who make racist comments or who call out for Obama to be killed.

    McCain, to his credit, has tried to put a stop to some of these comments by people who exhibit the worst that we have in the US like the lady calling Obama an Arab.

    The continual insinuations from Palin, in particular, that Obama is somehow less than patriotic because he is against the war in Iraq. The whipping up of nationalist sentiments is a dangerous thing in these times.

    I don’t know where you live, Dave, but I get really tired of listening to my friends from Australia, Europe, and Asia bring up all of the nasty sound bites that we hear on CNN and the BBC as somehow being what we Americans are really like. I remember when Americans were considered to be generous to a fault. We’re being reduced to a caricature these days by Palin who exhibits the worst of small town America.

    Just my view from here. Thanks for writing.

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