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Post-9/11 Good Will Hunting

By       Message nanci graves     Permalink
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Observing the US presidential election from abroad, I wonder if most Americans realize just how unbelievably lucky we are to have the chance to play our cards right on November 4th and elect Barack Obama. In a single night, the US could win back virtually all the riches of international regard that have been squandered during the past eight depressing years. This is what is at stake in this election: a wave of euphoria if Obama wins; a tsunami of despair if he doesn't.

This chance really is like a scenario out of a good Disney film: a kind of miraculous opportunity to revisit the days following 9/11 when just about every person on the planet sympathized with America and wanted to help in its recovery. A chance like this is unlikely to ever come again: if we blow it this time, after 2000 and 2004, that would make 2008 the third strike and we're out year for our international relations. The thought that the wondrous prospect of finally recovering our dignity might be thrown away on a pair of jokers is too tragic even to contemplate.

I know there is no point in talking to the type of American who reacts with sputtering ire whenever it is suggested that they should take world opinion into account: they still think it's cool to be hated and they were always going to vote for the other guy, anyway. Never mind them: I'm talking to all my fellow countrymen and women who are savvy and sensible enough to realize that regaining our country's good standing in the world is the best way to look after America's own interests, which is exactly what every politician is always saying we should do in order to survive.

A vote for Obama is being selfish in a good way. The benefits of renewed world regard, both tangible and intangible, will spill over onto all of us in countless directions. Friends watch your back and make you feel safer. Friends help you out and make trouble easier to bear. Friends make the world feel like a friendlier place. You don't have to be a genius to work this out; it is simply how human psychology works.

Since I have to read the financial news every day, I know how close to crashing the US economy is even as we speak. The advantage that Obama will bring to his country during the rocky time ahead is that a majority of the world's population will be on his side and will be rooting for the US to return to health, both economically and politically. More countries will genuinely want to cooperate, both in business and in world affairs, when they are no longer being bullied into it. If Obama plays his own cards right, his initial honeymoon period could go on indefinitely. World leaders across the political spectrum genuinely like him: they're not just being polite because it's expedient to be. As the representative face of the US, an eloquent African-American president from Harvard Law would be a true novelty in the good sense of the word and most of the world would want to see him succeed.

This is not to say that everything will be peachy-keen again as soon as Obama and family are installed in the White House. The fact is that no president will be able to clean up the mess-of-historic-proportions that Bush will be leaving behind him any time soon. According to reality-based financial experts, the US economy will probably need a minimum of 10 years to recover from the abyss it is now in. Even under the best-case scenario, it will remain doubtful whether a full recovery is even possible. The country is obviously going to need a lot of energy to move this mountain of debt: and this effort will obviously be a whole lot easier to achieve if it's on an emotional high rather than so far down in the dumps that it can't see the sky.

At the moment, the election odds remain even. We could have the winning hand. Talk to your friends of all political persuasions. Remind them that a lot of decent conservatives are placing their bets with a heartfelt prayer on the Democratic ticket. Help them see the consequences of losing the game this time around. Do everything you can to convince them that if they really want to put our country first, then Obama is the card to play.


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Nanci is a teacher in Japan who has a great affinity for cats.

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Post-9/11 Good Will Hunting