This blog is about Boquete Panama, it is not about the USA nor US politics however since I am a US citizen I have been told I cannot comment on Panamanian politics. I can however discuss the US Presidential election with the perspective of having not even visited the US for more than two years. This is my opinion.
Over the past few months I have been barraged with email from both polarized sides of the debate in the US. Email naming Barack Obama as a spend and tax liberal. Email labeling John McCain, my Senator from Arizona as an old tired man with a temper and out of touch with reality. I voted for John McCain.
It has been enlightening to read about both of them. Equally enlightening to see how both, neither a favorite at the beginning of the primaries won their respective nominations.
The question on November 4th is where to invest your vote. The word invest is particularly relevant in light of the current world economic debacle. In a short editorial I am going to say who I would select for my vote.
Without getting into a weighty discussion of all the issues a few leap out and require thought.
1. It’s the Economy Stupid: A campaign cry from 1992 – Who is better suited to select professionals who can help turn a sinking ship around? The solution eludes my nonexistent knowledge of macro economics but it is a mess. In this I believe a well educated young man with the party that last balanced the federal budget has an advantage. Unless the economy is fixed nothing else matters. McCain is not a man to consult with others except perhaps the crew in power now. The same crew who in eight years reversed prosperity and acquired so much new debt that the national debit sign in NYC has run out of digits. Maybe Democrats are tax and spend but under Clinton the budget was running in a surplus, under a Republican the deficit is at a new high and China holds the financial keys to the kingdom.
2. War, no, two wars: Here the decision is very clear. One candidate takes great pride in his being a POW and supports the war in Iraq. The other wants to pull out and his time table was endorsed by the Iraqi government. Unless the bleeding stops, both in red and green in Iraq there is no healing for either the economy or the US. The lies that caused the war were lies and the criminals still running the US. John McCain promises four more years of the same bleeding.
3. A heart beat away: I am not sure which past presidential election used this line but it is more relevant now than anytime before. Even if you believe John McCain is the man, he is older than Ronald Reagan when Reagan ran for his second term. Joe Biden is a very experienced politician, who is Sara Palin? That is the scary question and she will be one heartbeat away. A woman with zero experience ourside of Alaska who’s religious views make G W Bush look like a heathen.
4. Seperation of Church and State: It is enshrined in the US consitution. The constitution does not say the US is a christian nation. Many supporters of Sara Palin seem to have forgotten that fact. Jimmy Carter a very devout man has been appalled at the way G W Bush has moved religion, his brand of Christianity into the White House.
5. A view from off shore: In the past year I have traveled in much of Latin America and have consistently been surprised how much space and time local media uses to discuss the elections in the US. Since the Monroe doctrine the US has played a powerful role, good and bad in Latin America. Now there is a strong movement from Latin leaders in some countries to break that hold. I am not certain if that is good or bad but the spawn of GW Bush’s policies in Latin America is Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Chavez has spawned other “populist” governments in Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua. Venezuelans I speak with call him crazy but he is El Jefe and has re-energized the Fidel Castro roll model, this time with money.
I realize that Latin American politics seems remote from the current problems in the US BUT they are not. There are huge numbers of Latin American voters in the US. These immigrants some current some for generations have families in Latin America families incuding the Cubans in Miami that know what will happen if Chavez is successful emulating Castro’s Cuba.
The Internet is a wonderful thing, so is chatting online in Spanish. I have chatted with people throughout Latin America. Cubans I speak with are hungry, cannot leave, cannot easily run a business, they cannot even have the Internet at home; they have little hope. The current administration has helped feed Chavez, a MaCain administration shows no promise of anything more.
People in all the world are effected by the US election. I did a totally unscientific poll conducted with people in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Guatemala, Panama, Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, Peru and Columbia. The people I spoke with are watching with great interest and 100% of those I chatted with would, if they could, vote for Barack Obama and hope for change, so would I.
A note on point four above regarding religion.
It is the Establishment clause of the First Amendment and Supreme Court interpretations, not the body of the US Constitution:
“The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a national religion by the Congress or the preference of one religion over another, or religion over non-religion. Originally, the First Amendment only applied to the federal government. Subsequently, under the incorporation doctrine, certain selected provisions were applied to states. It was not, however, until the middle and later years of the twentieth century that the Supreme Court began to interpret the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses in such a manner as to restrict the promotion of religion by state governments. For example, in the Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687 (1994), Justice David Souter, writing for the majority, concluded that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion”.
The quote is abstracted from Wikipedia, simple and to the point.
Here is a more detailed discussion. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/02.html#1