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October 09, 2008

A View of the US Election from Egypt

My friend, Ahmed, lives in London but is Egyptian by birth.  He writes about his life in a great blog, "Ahmed's Chunks".  He talks about what he's learning about himself as he considers what to get rid of when he's moving across town.  He talks about something they've done in his improv class.  He talks about not having enough money to buy a flat, although he teaches at a local college.  He talks about conversations with his parents long distance from Egypt, concerns about Ahmed not yet being married mostly. 

Ahmed rarely writes about politics although it's a great interest of his.  He pays a lot of attention to what we do here.  When he was visiting Seattle a few months ago, we talked and talked about a range of political issues - all over the world but particularly here. 

A couple weeks ago, Ahmed was visiting Cairo for a few weeks, hanging out with his middle-upper middle class family and with his friends in coffee shops and clubs.  After reading a couple very interesting posts, I asked Ahmed if he would write, either at his blog or mine, about what folks in Egypt think about our election.  He wrote about it at his blog, titling it "US elections 2008 - view from Egypt".

How do my friends in Egypt see the upcoming US election? The answer may surprise US readers. My friends see it as a choice between two candidates worse than each other. They have no preference for either candidate and see both as representatives of the same system; a system steeped in domineering unfavoured others.

They perceive that Obama has charisma, they know McCain is experienced. They can see that Palin will hoover up votes from certain demographics. They know about the US election cycle, and the huge campaign budgets involved. But they fundamentally believe neither candidate will make their own lives better. As far as they are concerned: the US political system produces a stream of standard-issue presidents.

Ahmed's finding made me sad as an American but it didn't really surprise me.  For me, I am working hard to help Obama and all Democrats up and down the ticket.  I am working knowing that the changes they are able to make may not be nearly what I would like.  But, by and large, our Democrats care about people and about governing well.  With the ongoing help and support of as many of us as we can have continue to pay attention and act after the election, we might be able to address some of this terrible mess we've been left.

I also know that if the Republicans win at just about any level, we are really, deeply in trouble.  We are in trouble economically; our water and soil and energy sources are all either being depleted or degraded.  We don't really have much time to ease off on the pollution to prevent extreme climate changes.  We can't waste time messing over the stupid things, like preventing abortions or gay marriage that Republicans obsess over, which is how we got in this predicament to start with.  We need to rebuild our educational system, our infrastructure, and our methods of acquiring and using energy.  We can't waste money on the greed and corruption that the Republicans bring on. 

But, we've been so self-absorbed as a nation that it hasn't looked like we were of any use internationally and, worse even, often made huge messes that the rest of the world then has to live with, messes like supporting Afghanistan mudjahadeen during the 80's to rid the country of the Russians; messes like refusing to negotiate with the Koreans without an excessive amount of stepping down on their side; messes like supporting Israel even when they do the most stupid things like maintain unlawful settlements or build a huge and very unfair wall.   

What else are people to think?  And, what else is there to do but do whatever we can to keep getting more and better Democrats and then hold their feet to the fire.

There's lot's more and it's very interesting.  My thanks.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 9, 2008 at 08:38 PM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink


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