How Non-Americans View The US Presidential Election – OpEd

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How Non-Americans View The US Presidential Election – OpEd
Published 22-03-2016, 20:00

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner

It is universally accepted that US is the strongest country in the world from the point of view of economic strength and military muscle power. Everyone understands that any decision or act of the US government can influence world affairs in a positive manner or provide an adverse impact. In such circumstances, it is surprising that the present US presidential campaign is not evoking the type of interest among world citizens in the same manner that it did in past editions. Of course, the political observers around the world are watching the US presidential scenario with great keenness and interest, however, this does not seem to so in the case of world citizens.

Eight years ago when President Obama launched his presidential campaign, world citizens showed a huge interest in the process, wondering whether the US citizens would elect a person as President who was not a white candidate. The campaign style of Obama was also unique and he effectively created an impression that he would be a change leader, after all his campaign theme was Hope and Change. While Obama was elected overwhelmingly and the world opinion was in favor of the electoral verdict, the eight years of governance by the Obama administration have made people question whether he has really delivered what he promised.

When Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a few months after being elected to the Presidential office — and even before he did anything tangible or impressive towards the cause of world peace — the selection committee for the Nobel Prize and Obama himself lost the shine a bit. Many thought the award of the Nobel Prize for Obama for world peace was a bit premature and the fact that Obama readily agreed to receive the prize made people suspect as to whether Obama really had introspected about his contribution to world peace and whether he was behaving like any other politician. Even today, many people think that if Obama had politely refused to accept the Nobel prize award, his stock would have gone up several fold and he would have lived up to the image that he had created for himself during the US presidential campaign. In any case, Obama made his choice and as a result lost a bit of shine.

As far as the world affairs are concerned, during the eight years of governance by Obama, it appears to the world that he has not done anything different or adopted a policy approach that was different from his predecessors. He sent his country’s troops — and persisted with military adventure — to different parts of the world just like several other US presidents before. As a result, the widespread view that American foreign policy has always been unprincipled and self-centered has persisted during Obama’s eight years of governance.

As the US is now heading for next Presidential election, the world citizens are finding themselves thinking that it does not make any difference to the world as to who will  be the next president, as the next president is unlikely to be dissimilar to the way that Obama and his predecessors have adopted policies when dealing with world affairs. As such, world citizens think that the US presidential elections may have no significance for them.

The perception is that past US governments — including the one led by Obama — have always given an impression that the US will conduct itself in dealing with other countries not on a basis of any fair principles or ethical values that the US governments have been proclaiming to follow. In the past, the commitment of the US government to democracy has not been seen to be practiced in world affairs. Even if practiced, it was very selective.

With the next president not likely to be much different from the past incumbents, the world is reconciled to whoever will be elected as the next US president. World citizens are only watching — and with no particular expectations.

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