Should the world ignore the US elections? Are American citizens better off with ‘America first’ policy?
A couple of months to the United States November presidential elections and the world cannot fail to notice the lack of global enthusiasm and the generally depressed presidential campaigns. That notwithstanding the global impact of the US elections.
The current administration, whose rhetoric includes ‘make America great again’ and ‘America first,’ would like to believe that America is better off left to her devices.
The US, in the years preceding the Trade Center attacks, popularly known as the 9/11, had been experiencing unprecedented economic growth powered by a supporting internally-focused political rhetoric. Americans, having been worn out by the effects of the first Gulf war, had been receptive to Bill Clinton’s populist politics, which emphasized internal economics: It’s the economy, stupid!
By the time George Bush, the second, strode the white House lawns, therefore, the global agenda was of secondary importance to American political rhetoric. The 9/11 attacks were therefore not only a rude interruption but also served as a basis for unsettling the status quo.
The post 9/11 era saw the United States, to her credit, playing the leading role in the war against global terror. This role, apart from helping galvanize the reelection of George W. Bush, also oversaw the ushering in of a global economic recession, compared only to a similar one almost a century ago. By the time of ushering the first black president, American citizens, burdened by unmanageable household debt, were yearning for a shift from global politics.
Obama reluctantly, owing to his indebtness to the ‘Yes – We Can,’ ventured into global politics and conflict insisting on leveraging on technology and keeping the American soldier at home safe from harm’s way. The Obama administration, as a result, popularized the drone wars, eliciting ethical debate on the course, spending a fortune, and consequently managing only marginal internal economic growth. The Americans, unable to re-live the good old times, blamed Obama’s conformism.
It is no wonder, therefore, that Donald Trump, whose reelection is under the consideration of American citizens, a political outsider, riding on ‘make America great again’ and a non-conformist promise, rode the streets of Washington D.C. on his way to occupy the Oval Office. Four years down the road, going by the polls, the Americans are, perhaps torn between the global COVID 19 pandemic and a Presidential election, and compared to a previous couple of presidential elections, running a low-tempo, racially-tinged election campaign.
US policies, being a sole Superpower, pervades global socio-politico-economic arena like the proverbial colossus monkey does the dense forests of the Congo Basin. The rest of the world, Africa included, could in fact ignore the American presidential elections but at own peril. A few examples could help illustrate this:
1. Preserving Global Democracy
No other, although democracy is no ideal, governance system has proved capable of providing for citizen involvement in decision-making like democracy. It is no wonder that the United States, with all her shortcomings, has proved most diverse and resilient society. Death of democracy in the United States would be catastrophic to humanity and, odd as it may sound, the most vulnerable.
2. Managing Global Conflict Hot-spots
Leadership vacuum, at whatever lever, brings undesirable effects. A global leadership vacuum would be catastrophic. Leadership, in this context, implies rhetoric and capacity. No other country compares to the United State’s capacity to back her rhetoric with her means – sort of, the ability to put the mouth where the money is. When, for instance, global terror reared its ugly head, America was able to deploy enormous resources to address the same.
3. Preserving Global Human Rights
The United States, in spite of her perceived internal weaknesses in areas such as race relations, has the capacity to support the global legal system for the preservation of human rights. The implications of widespread unchecked global human rights violations would be catastrophic to the world’s most vulnerable populations.
For the Americans, therefore, ignoring the November presidential elections means endangering their own wellbeing. For the rest of the world, ignoring the United States presidential elections implies ignoring the enormous implications thereof.