It seems to many that Obama is the man that is making Europe fall in love with America again, and Justin Webb (a BBC reporter based in the USA) has spoken of Brits defending America – my own comment being #3 about being at the Atheist Alliance Conference in Washington DC a city of which I once wrote:
Beginning to appreciate the feelings [US citizens have] about their country when you understand how they think about it. There is a forthrightness about how people talk about politics, there is no fear in saying a point of view and friends disagree strongly with each other yet still get each other drinks. It’s like a melting pot and I just really am enjoying the taste of it all.
I have really fallen in love with the place here. The memorial parks (especially WW II) are very moving, the design is incredible and awe inspiring. I am beginning to appreciate how the mentality works in the US. Their history of political action and sacrifice is in their hearts, and the result is a people self assured in who they are and thinking about what they want to be.
I think it helped walking round the Mall. America’s history is not something conserved in text books; the Mall is a living monument to the history and actions of those that not only made America the nation that emboldened the ideas of liberty and freedom but continues to inspire others to do the same. Having walked around it on several occasions I understand the pride that Americans feel in their country; there seemed no need to tell us or to shout “U-S-A”. A walk round the Mall was the inspiring way to shock and awe me in ways that flexing superpower muscle never could – soft power based on the ultimate currency of aspiration backed by historical legacy.
It seems that Obama feels like this with the UK. During his recent visit he commented:
Mr Obama spoke of a “deep and abiding affection for the British people in America and a fascination with all things British”.
He also referred to a shared history and the role of the “English tradition” in shaping the US constitution.
Whether the trip helps Obama back home in the polls – the thing seems to be experience/substance versus inspiration/change in the McCain V Obama contest – the one thing I am still waiting for is McCain to decide his Running Mate. A Romney or a Huckabee would (as a secularist) be something that would make me want Obama to win. The issue is not how religious a person is (how can I be for religious freedom if I do no think people are entitled to their own delusions about the world?) but how such a person uses the political process to impose their religious belief based on faith over others. That is outside public reason, being both divisive and against meeting the needs and welfare of the body politic – the separation of church and state was designed in this way to preserve the liberty of people to exercise their religious beliefs and for politicians to concentrate on serving all the people.
The McCain advert I think is rather wrong to suggest that Obama is seen as a celebrity like Paris Hilton or Brittney Spears. In Europe he is seen as being a marked contrast to the current administration and to be serious about the international community coming together on global issues. The historical significance of a black nominee for President of the United States is one not lost on the continent and it has the feeling of magic as well as the feeling of hope.
I wonder why McCain is not making clear blue water between himself and Bush, giving enough noise to the GOP to get the funds and volunteers he needs but at the same time being the person that appeals to
independents and the Regan Democrats. He seems to be going to the Right while Obama heads for the centre ground – and elections are won where the voters congregate.
If the race is tight though the edge is with McCain – the polls may underestimate his support in a similar way to which Conservative support was in the UK General Election in 1992. People just did not want to admit that they would vote Conservative, and the polls were wrong. This is significant for:
As Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain bring their presidential campaigns to the Sunshine State this weekend, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Obama holding a narrow Florida lead within the survey’s margin of error.
Obama has a 46-to-44 percent lead over McCain in the Quinnipiac poll of 1,248 likely Florida voters, which was conducted July 23 through Tuesday and has a 2.8 percent margin of error. [More here]
One thing is sure – this race is one that the world will be watching, and the result more significant then anything the Olympics could produce on the world stage. But who ever wins the reasons for Thomas Paine and other Brits supporting the USA is one I understand more then ever.