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INK_BLAST | WHY PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD PREFER OBAMA

INK_BLAST | WHY PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD PREFER OBAMA

By Juleyka Lantigua
ObamaWe should examine why so many people around the world prefer Barack Obama to John McCain as the next president of the United States.

"On average, 46 percent think that U.S. relations with the world would get better with Obama," according to a recent BBC survey. "However, only 20 percent think that relations would get better under McCain."

The BBC asked over 22,000 people in 22 countries around the world how they thought the outcome of the presidential election would affect their perception of our country. The most pro-Obama countries were: Kenya (87 percent), Nigeria (71 percent), Canada (69 percent), Italy (64 percent), France (62 percent), Australia (62 percent), and Germany (61percent).

These findings confirm what my friends and family have been telling me for months. My circle includes a Japanese friend married to a Russian, a black British friend who has been living in Spain for over twenty years, my husband’s extended family in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, my relatives in Dominican Republic and Spain, two Americans who immigrated to Japan almost a decade ago and colleagues in far-off places like Hungary.

My friends and family from abroad all agree that the last eight years have damaged our reputation and our relations with other countries. While we were once the admired leader of the free world, we have been reduced to the schoolyard bully.

My friends don’t understand why we’re still in Iraq, or why we invaded in the first place. They are puzzled by how much the Bush administration has manipulated our allies into supporting an unjustifiable war that has cost billions and resulted in countless deaths.

What’s more, they can’t understand why we can’t deliver basic social services in an efficient and just manner. Health care and education are at the top of the list.

No one understands why we do not have universal health care, or why insurance and pharmaceutical companies are allowed to essentially run corporate cartels.

In Japan, the Netherlands, England and Spain, the universal health care system allows people to go see a doctor whenever they are sick, in many instances at no cost to them.

On top of that, many countries guarantee a free or virtually free college education to anyone who passes entrance exams.

Not surprisingly, "Obama support worldwide tends to be strongest amongst youth and the more educated," the survey found. Overall, Obama "has the support of 61 percent of those with university education."

Respondents of the BBC survey also agree that electing the first African-American president would "fundamentally change" their image of the U.S., with 46 percent saying it would, while 27 percent saying it would not.

From speaking to my Nigerian in-laws, I gather that an Obama presidency would signal that we, as a country, are starting to equalize the power dynamic that has been skewed along racial lines for centuries.

To many people abroad, an Obama victory would also send the message that America, after eight long years, will have a leader who genuinely knows about and cares about the rest of the world.

They care about the outcome of this election almost as much as we do.

"Juleyka Lantigua is a journalist and editor whose work appears in national newspapers and magazines. For more info visit: www.juleykalantigua.com."

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