"Think Globally, Act Locally"... does that apply to our Presidential elections?
One of the "green" sayings that is often quoted is "think globally, act locally". Normally this is applied to making wise personal decisions that show responsible behavior towards the global ecosystem. But lately, the same phrase has been echoing in my mind in terms of our Presidential elections. Should we be thinking globally when we vote locally?
The article that triggered this post today was from CNN titled Europe mocks 'half-baked Alaskan' Palin. The journalist gets bonus points for the creative food reference. But this quote struck me as critical:
For Europeans, who were alienated during George W. Bush's first four years by a president who showed little interest in their continent and patently cared nothing for the opinions of its leaders, the turning point probably came with the appearance on the Katie Couric show when Palin confessed to not having had a passport until 2006.
Europeans are appalled at the thought that someone who wants to be vice president of the most powerful nation on earth had so little interest in the rest of a world which is so vitally affected by the decisions of the man, or woman, in the White House.
If we were a nation of a million people tucked into the corner of some continent, I would think that no one much would care *who* we elect. But for better or worse, the United States exerts a huge amount of influence on the world stage. While tempting to say it's nobody's business who we elect, I would beg to differ. Our decision to invade Iraq has had ramifications for the entire Middle East. Our system of capitalism and "big business" has contributed mightily to the current financial crisis engulfing the world. And the leader of our country is one of a small handful of people who could end life as we know it on the planet with a simple command to launch a missile. Do you think that the world has a stake in who we elect?
I think I first became exposed to this "global" responsibility when I read and reviewed the book America Misunderstood. It was the first time I had been exposed in large part to non-American media views on our Presidential process. I guess I could consider that a major step in my political maturation process... coming to the conclusion that it's not "all about us".
To be clear, I'm not advocating that we open up our election process to six billion people. It's still important and vital that we elect a leader who can guide our country, understanding that there will always be times where we're not in agreement with our allies. But electing someone who only has "Joe Six-Pack" as their target constituency is a recipe for disaster in our global interactions. In addition to having a leader that we can be confident in, we also need a leader who will not be dismissed on the world stage.
And yes, I personally think we're in danger of doing just that if we're not careful...