What would happen if the entire world could vote in our election? One guess
The entire world is, apparently, full of whiny no-good commie liberals.
It's true. This is the only logical conclusion, the only way you can possibly parse the piles of (largely unscientific, but still pretty damn convincing) numbers and data and full-blown emotional consciousness now pouring in from all over the world, pumping our little presidential election full of all sorts of cosmic meaning and profundity and oh-my-God-can-it-be-true.
Check that: Maybe it's not the only way to parse it. But if you're a hard-core McCainite and/or are under some sort of unfortunate, chemically-induced delusion that Sarah Palin is just exactly the sort of dangerously harebrained, folksy, winking, nonsensical political confection we all really need right now, well, you might be more than a bit peeved to learn that the entire world has already cast its vote for our next president.
And of course, the world wants Obama.
Overwhelmingly. Crushingly. Rather staggeringly. By quite possibly the largest margin you will see anywhere except maybe Hawaii and D.C. and, well, San Francisco.
Did you already suspect? Could you not already guess? Because despite how here at home Obama is pulling nicely ahead by anywhere from five to 10 points almost across the board, we still call that a relatively close race. It's still "anybody's game," with both candidates currently whipping the battleground states into a frenzy and spending millions in a mad-dash sprint to an extraordinary finish.
The rest of the world? Not quite so divided. Not by a long shot.
Just look. Over at The Economist, they put together a rather ingenious tool, this Global Electoral College tracker thing, wherein we can ask, well, exactly that: What would happen if the nations of the world were divvied up in a way similar to our electoral college, with each nation getting a certain number of votes based on population? How might the world choose? Whom would they pick?
You might think the answer fairly obvious, given how many nations have been so violently insulted and ignored for the past eight solid years, and that the world's current shocking fiscal meltdown can, at least in part, be traced directly to Bush administration incompetence. It's no stretch at all to see McCain as merely a clone, more of the toxic, poisonous same, if not worse.
But come on, it can't be that much of a global landslide, right? Surely there must be some stiff, stoic nations out there who'd want a grumpy, tempestuous military man to lead the U.S., if only to have someone to play with in the grand sandbox of war and intolerance and oily greed?
Is there really no military junta, no dictator, no incensed bomb-gathering nation that really wants McCain, if only for the joy of mutual saber-rattling and for refreezing the Cold War? Putin fanatics? Tories? Papal knaves? Anyone?
McCain gets Georgia (of course). And maybe Macedonia. Slovakia is relatively close, but leaning Obama. And, well, that's about it. At last tally, of the 9,875 available global electoral votes (195 participating nations, including the U.S.), Obama has 8,482.
McCain has 16.
It is not even a contest. It is not a question. The world sentiment is so devastatingly in favor of the calm, stable, intellectual Harvard-trained senator over the cantankerous Bush-loving war hawk that, well, it can only make you wonder.
Is the planet simply turning into one giant blue state, more tolerant and fluid and less combative overall, more eager to work together to solve the myriad problems facing humanity, as opposed to fracturing off into bitter, fear-promoting rogue nations? Or was the world leaning that way already, and we've had these blinders on for so long we forgot how to see it?
Or maybe the conservative political parties in these nations, the ones you'd expect to support McCain's style of isolationist, military-first governance, have become just as splintered and out-of-touch as our own, and therefore can't muster enough unity to cast a vote for a fellow old-school war hawk?
Or is it merely because all those educated international readers of The Economist -- not to mention all the other international newspapers of note, nearly all of whom see Obama as a historic, positive step, a true world-changer -- are really just a bunch of namby-pamby gay-loving tofu heads who should put down the pot pipe and pick up a Bible and a gun?
Wait: Perhaps it's something even more frightening and nefarious. Maybe the world wants Obama simply because they see him as weak and conciliatory, as easy prey, and so of course the perverted, terrorist-choked world wants him, because then they can more easily bomb our cities and steal our women and drink our oil and force us to marry gay people and enjoy universal health care and drive girly little hybrid Eurocars to the soccer game.
Whoops. Channeling Rush Limbaugh for a horrible second there. Sorry.
I realize, at first glance, this entire question might be just ridiculously lopsided, a bit loaded, sort of like asking the world if they would like another presidential term for, say, Iran's Ahmadinejad, an extremist demagogue widely ignored and scoffed at by his own citizenry, but who makes headlines by catering to his militant, fundamentalist base. Hmm. How oddly familiar that sounds.
Then again, the truth about this global sentiment might be even more obvious, compelling, simple. It's a truth in two parts:
One: No matter where you live, no matter which nation you hail from or to which political ideology you tend to adhere, the Bush/McCain approach to leadership -- belligerent, militaristic, religiously closed-minded, culturally stagnant, environmentally reckless, fiscally irresponsible -- has resulted in one of the most epic collapses of a world power in modern history, which in turn has made the rest of the world a more volatile, hostile place for all.
Two: Maybe it's the Impossible Thing. Maybe Barack Obama himself, while still only a politician, still flawed and human and not, in fact, a demigod, maybe this man really is capable of inspiring not just intelligent progressives, not merely normally apathetic youth, not merely women and minorities and academics and moderates and a jaded, wary media, but the entire unpredictable, contorted, diverse planet.
In other words, maybe he really does have something profoundly important, something rare and exceptional, to offer the world, and the world -- like the majority of us here at home -- recognizes a once-in-a-lifetime shot at enriching its destiny when it sees one.
© 2008 San Francisco Chronicle