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Thoughts on Voting

"The people who cast the votes don't decide an election; the people who COUNT the votes do." -- Joseph Stalin

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Whole World is Watching -- Again

Obama Speaks to Huge Crowd in Berlin

Barack Obama Will Restore U.S. Reputation Worldwide

40 years ago, in 1968, disenfranchised Democratic voters demonstrated in Chicago while police teargassed them and beat them with clubs. Martin Luther King and their hope for the future, Bobby Kennedy, had been assassinated and their candidate, Eugene McCarthy, was replaced by the DNC's hand-picked stooge, Hubert Humphrey. Their cry to the world in front of TV cameras was: 'THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING". Now, it is watching again.

If the world could vote, Barack Obama would win by a landslide.

He'd take 78% of the vote in France, 72% in Germany, 70% in Canada and 61% in Japan, according to global newspaper polls and Harris Interactive, a market research firm in Rochester, N.Y.

Beneath those numbers, running parallel to Obama-mania, is a shifting global view of the United States. One week before Election Day, the world is revising its opinion of America. After a drop of confidence in the United States, presidential candidate Barack Obama has revived the U.S. brand, exporting a vision of American renewal to a world watching the election with unprecedented interest.

"He's just stirred the imagination of ordinary people," said Daniel Kinnear, a veteran diplomat based in South Africa. "For a country like South Africa that is coming out of a legacy of apartheid and is still dealing with its legacy, Obama remains a sign of hope. There's an incredible romanticism of having a black American on the forefront of change in the United States."

"If Obama does win, this could also be the moment when the world stops hating America," Vir Sanghvi, an Indian columnist, wrote in the Hindustan Times. "The world will feel engaged by an Obama presidency. By electing Obama they have the chance to earn ... goodwill, to transform their country's image, and to finally stem the rising tide of global anti-Americanism."

Since President Bush took office in 2000, approval of the United States has dropped, along with its soft power -- indirect influence by which the United States can advance its policy goals without the use of force or coercion.



Bragi Thor Antoniusson, a 23-year-old student in Iceland, thinks the answer is: at least some.

"We're not asking to have a vote, what we're asking is that Americans open their eyes and see that the world's opinion matters," Antoniusson told The Trail.

Antoniusson helped create the online survey site If the World Could Vote, where users click to vote by country. To prevent multiple votes and voting by bots, the site counts one vote per IP address (the identifying code for a computer's network). If you've clicked on either Sen. John McCain or Sen. Barack Obama to cast a vote using your personal or work computer, whichever country that computer may be in, the site only counts the vote once. There are ways to abuse this, of course -- users can vote from more than one computer, for example -- but, for the most part, it works. One click, one vote. "Some people may think the site is just silly, or just something to pass around with friends," Antoniusson said, "but it's still saying something."

And Antoniusson, an Obama supporter, was happy to report that as of Monday night, it's a digital landslide for the Democrat. Out of 475,000 votes cast from 200 countries, Obama drubs McCain, 87 percent to 13 percent. More than 40,000 votes-by-clicks were cast in Canada, about 20,000 came from Australia and Finland and some 4,000 from China. About 170,000 came from America.

The results of Antonoiusson's unscientific poll are in sync with findings from the most recent Gallup polls conducted in 70 countries. Gallup's world poll, which can be accessed on Foreign Policy's site, shows Obama leading McCain 66 percent to 15 in Japan, for example.

"For me, my vote for Obama goes back to his opposition to the Iraq war. I know it's not high on the list of what Americans want to talk about, but America's invasion of Iraq affected more than just America. There are about 40 other countries with troops in Iraq because America decided to go to war," Antoniusson continued. (Most of the troops from the coalition that assisted with the initial phase of the war have since departed).


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