Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why Obama Mattered

Miopic, nativist conservatives like to scoff at the idea that our global image is, at the end of the day, of any import or real concern. They would just as soon project power through force of arms and keep other nations in line through fear than lead through the respect and admiration that our values and commitment to justice command (when not actively withdrawing from world affairs altogether). This is a dangerous, and ultimately self-defeating view.

One of the great assets that Barack Obama brought to the table when he ran for president was the admiration of hundreds of millions or ordinary men and women throughout the globe. He was seen as a beacon of hope, not just for Americans, but for the citizens of the whole world who for decades admired our nation and spent the last eight years scratching their heads wondering how we could have strayed so far from our ideals. How was it possible that a nation that had once stood for justice was invading non-agressor nations without provocation? How was it possible that a nation that had once been a champion of human rights was now operating clandestine prisons and torturing and murdering detainees while denying them even the most basic juducial protections? Almost over-night, Barack Obama through the sheer force of his personality, his life's story and his genuine idealism, stepped up to the plate and washed away so much of the scum and dirt that had sullied our image abroad due to the actions of the previous administration.

The significance and importance of the global good will that Obama has cultivated and harnessed is nowhere so evident as in the current economic crisis. Yesterday Obama penned an editorial that ran in no fewer than thirty newpapers around the globe, urging significant, concerted action to prevent the current financial malaise from metastesizing into a full blown cancerous depression. There is no guarantee that Obama's plea will have the desired effect, but it seems inconceivable that a similar plea from another politician (John McCain, for instance) would carry anything near the same moral authority nor be received with the same degree of throughtful respect. If anyone can get the world to join hands and act in concert to save us from disaster, it is Obama.

Our nation is very lucky to have elected this man to see us through the present turmoil. Of that I have no doubt.

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