Watching Republicans wave signs of “The Country First” I sense once again the iconic character of this election. On the one hand, we have a leprously white old rich guy. His world is “the country” and whatever lies beyond its borders is there only to serve this country’s interests. He represents a long tradition of government by rich white guys, guys like him who don’t know how many homes they have and think that you need at least five million dollars to be rich.
On the other hand, we have a vigorous person of color who belongs to the whole world. His vision is broad enough to understand that our only credible slogan must be “The Planet First”. He talks of dialogue with the Muslim nations and negotiations even with countries belonging to Bush’s “axis of evil”. His America is not the posh private clubs of power but includes the black neighborhoods in Chicago where he worked as a community organizer and where his wife was born and raised.
America’s voters have never faced a more sharply delineated choice between a pale-faced past and a multi-colored future. Women are integral to Obama’s world, whereas McCain, in a desperate attempt to pander to women voters, asked his staff to find him a woman. It didn’t have to be someone he knew, worked with, or even heard of…just so she’s a woman who is as far right as he is. And they did indeed find such a woman, someone about whom the farthest right wing of his party can be excited.
And who will win? I predict McCain’s victory, though I would love to be wrong. I don’t think America is ready for the future. Germany would elect Obama, with an 80% majority. But Germany has universal health care, a peacetime economy, and an exemplary prison system (without the death penalty). Moreover, Germans are educated about world politics, whereas most Americans are satisfied with the comic-book level of Fox News.
November will tell us whether we are fated to live four more years in the last century or whether we are ready to embark on a path to the real world today and its possible future tomorrow. Are we ready to put the world first or are we still narcissistically hung up with “the country first” mentality of those excited Republicans I was watching on TV last night?
By Ron Miller – September 4, 2008