Some 200 million people have a vote in the coming US elections. Yet the future course of global politics depends to a great extent on those votes. The majority of votes will be cast on traditional partisan lines, on local and national interests, and maybe on single issues. Most will have no regard for the impact of those votes on the world.
In these remaining weeks before the November 6th ReconciliationTalk will be trying to raise a voice for a vote that will work for peace for the world. Read posts on the international perspective on the elections here: 2008 US Elections. Comment on the posts as they appear or below. And visit and join the the Facebook group.
Below is the original January post on this subject. This was first written as a post in response to an article in the New York Times in late January 2008: U.S. Race Captures World’s Eye, and Holds It It reflected on the unprecedented international interest in the US primaries. I wrote then: "American friends, I am not sure if you realise how much your Presidential primaries are being followed here in the UK or around the world?" I would say the same today, as we are now just 5 weeks away from the Presidential Election. Why the interest?
"No taxation without representation" Thus rang the catchy slogan of the American Revolution. (For my British friends I am deliberately using the American name of what on this side of the big pond we call the American War of Independence; I am writing for my American friends who from here on I will address directly.)
At the heart of that slogan lay a sense of natural justice; that "if we don't get a say in what goes on, don't think you Brits can continue to grow rich at our expense." Despite the many jokes I have had with some of you over that issue, there is no question in my mind that justice, and in my understanding the God of justice, was on your side on that one. I believe your Independence was rightly deserved. It is wrong that a nation should seek to dominate and exploit another nation 3000 miles away.
American friends, your nation was won and founded on a sense of justice and fairness, expressed through the democratic process, and emerging for many of your founding fathers from a Christian worldview. So as a people and a nation committed to that principle, can I respectfully ask you please to listen to what I have to say. I seek to write with a sense of the great love and respect I feel for you and your nation.
An article in the New York Times today echoes my own growing frustration and thoughts in regard to your current US election primaries. It deals with a brutal truth of this global era: that the decisions of your electorate will determine the future issues of the people of the world in their nation, their region and their own lives. I talk about their nation, etc., because I want to direct attention to the really economically or politically powerless in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, etc. Yet to be honest I am inclined to feel powerless too.
Left unspoken in this article, but on my heart for some weeks now, is the deeper issue: that America, THE world power, a nation which holds such influence over the lives of so many in so many nations, can conduct its election with very little regard for those lives and nations, and certainly with no representation from them in the process. No wonder there is such interest, and behind that interest, please believe me, such frustration.
You see, it seems to us that foreign policy really doesn't matter in your elections. That is entirely natural at the most obvious level. People in other nations don't have votes. Your candidates may have good intentions in the area of international relations, but they are after your votes so they concern themselves with your interests. That's the case over here as well in our elections and its true everywhere. When your electorate do show concern beyond your nation it will be usually be on trade imbalances in relation to jobs and prices; also your national security which today brings a particular type of focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. For many of you, I know, your concerns may extend to human rights and religious freedom; and while important that does set a very specific focus on particular nations. Occasionally concern is expressed at candidate’s lack of experience of foreign issues, but it seldom goes beyond comment, and when has it really impacted the result?
In general, I would suggest, national elections prove to be a very ineffective way of determining foreign policy on anything other than pure national interest terms. Democracy was never really intended to be about including "them" in decision-making, it was about empowering "us". The trouble is the "them" we are talking about is over 95% of the world's population. There is simply no mechanism for "them" to be heard.
I realise this could turn into a rant. I confess that would be my temptation. But I know that will not win a hearing and will certainly change nothing. Instead I have a question for you. As a global power, how do you "do justice" for the nations in a national election?
Let me suggest three responses that wil help you "Vote with the whole World in Mind":
- Can I ask you, my American friends, to consciously take your African, Middle Eastern, Latin and Asian friends with you into the voting booth, the caucus, the debate, or wherever you can express your opinions? (There will be a crowd in there; don't tell the officials or they may exclude you!) And before you go, ask them what they think, listen and reflect. They have no other voice.
- I say they have no other voice. Actually in one way that is not true. In our multicultural societies the world is on our doorsteps. Some are using the word glocal to express the need to think globally and act locally. Let’s make this election a glocal one!! Get in touch with immigrant communities near you - they represent the voice of so many in other nations who mention immigration issues in the NYT article. That will inevitably impact the way you think about one of the key issues in your campaign which is immigration. I hear the word "illegals" so much nowadays, and often in election debate. In fact I have heard it so much so that I have found myself using it, and it shocked me. It is so easy in a catchy word, a politician’s phrase, but it serves to lower the value of human life. Ask yourself what it is that makes an immigrant leave home and come to live in our societies with so little security, especially as "an illegal"? They leave family, home, familiarity - so much that in a less materialistic culture is so important. Get to know them, listen to them, encourage them, and take their issues to candidates and their representatives. Encourage them to vote, and if they have no votes or dare not vote (because they are illegal) take them into that booth with you.
- For those who are Christians Pray!! In prayer we submit the affairs of our nation to the God of the world. He is concerned for America, and he is concerned for the world - every nation, person, tribe, language and indeed people of every faith. A prayer movement across the USA that says "Vote with the whole World in Mind" could change the course of your nation's affairs in the world.
Please hear me. I am really not suggesting one world government! I am not pointing the finger at you. (Three fingers would point back because as a nation we have a history of imposing our will on the world; it didn't work and it left a legacy of pain.) I am not suggesting any one candidate. I am not advocating one party over another. I am not even suggesting what the outcome of this could be. I merely ask you to do what you can, and pray.
I await your responses with interest. Leave a note on the comments. Visit and join the the Facebook group.
Vote in the US Elections with the whole world in mind