Politics Anyone? Si!

obama_chavezThroughout the past couple of weeks here in the Caribbean/Latin America, I’ve had several random conversations with people.  After traveling to India last summer, during the U.S. presidential election campaigns, and being constantly asked about whether I thought Obama could win the White House (which everyone there wanted to happen), I was interested to hear what people here are thinking.  I offer the following completely non-scientifically validated observations about USAmerican political topics (in no particular order).  Sorry if they don’t match up with your politics – the reason for this post is just to give a brief glimpse into people that may or may not have votes to cast, but certainly have to deal with the consequences of U.S. politics.

– The people of this region are happy (very) that Barrack Obama is the president.  They are hopeful for positive changes in the relationships between the U.S. government and the Caribbean/Latin America.

– When Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela began making inflammatory criticisms of U.S. foreign policy during the Bush administration, the rest of Latin America (at least quietly) cheered.  Apparently he was giving voice to what many others were thinking.  Even if they didn’t fully understand or agree with what Chavez said, or how he’s working now, there is an appreciation for the fact that he’s willing to stand up to the “bully” from the north.  By the way, a lot of the above also applies to Fidel Castro.

– Related to the previous observation, just because Latin America doesn’t raise their voices in opposition to any given U.S. policy, doesn’t necessarily mean that they support it.  Often, they keep quiet about their views for fear of damaging much-needed trade relationships.

– Christians here are absolutely appalled that USAmerican Christians would so heartily support president Bush.  They don’t understand how Christians would support someone who would so vigorously make war with other nations.  On a related note, they have heard of James Dobson here, and cannot understand how someone like this could be such a prominent Christian voice.

– People here (and I’ll include some folks I talked to in the UK on this one) don’t seem too terribly freaked out over the notion of socialism.  They’ve seen some experiments and some failures, but socialism isn’t the kind of OMG-the-communists-are-taking-over-the-world!!! fear-inducing word that it is in USAmerica.  They don’t necessarily endorse a full-scale institution of socialism, but the concepts sure don’t freak them out.

– For as popular as Barrack Obama is here, if the next presidential election were held next month and everyone here had a vote, the question would not be whether he would get re-elected, but whether any of the Jonas Brothers are old enough, because those kids ROCK!!!

Well now, I suppose I’ve made both friends and enemies with this post.  Just keep in mind, I’ve tried to limit my own commentary while writing these observations.  Also, I didn’t go around just looking for people who would confirm my own political points of view – long-time readers of this blog will recall my severe ambivalence regarding U.S. politics. For the record, I did not vote for a major party candidate in the most recent U.S. Presidential election.

Image Credit: Univision.com forum page

3 comments
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  1. Steve,

    I had very similar experiences when I was in Guatemala in the summer of 2008. Everybody wanted to know what I thought about Obama and his chances to win the election. The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. I love your observations. They definitely give me some things to think about. Keep it up man!

  2. Hey Steve

    You’ve hit the nail with the demonization of the word “socialism” in the US.

    The analogy I often employ in my own head for the US vs UK political worldview with regards to the left and the right is that the political spectrum in both countries starts and ends in different places. It’s like we’re using two seperate sliding scales.

    What is considered wildlly leftist in the US is often consideration to be slightly to the left in the UK. What is considered acceptably right wing conservative in the US would sometimes be considered off the scale here in the UK.

    “Socialism” descent into being a dirty world makes me inwardly chuckle a little. This newish point of view seems to be birthed out of a degree of fear, and a stance that eshews dialog and engagement.

    (I shall now step off my soapbox! 😉

    Hope you are well, bud.

    J

  3. They are wise, wise people. The JoBros DO indeed Rock and it’s only a matter of time before Nick will be running for office! At 17 he’s already announced his intentions.

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