Why I am Voting for Barack Obama

Polling for this presidential election is nearly constant, both in “key battleground states” and in the nation at large. As a bemused inhabitant of one of those key battleground states, I admit that I check the polls . . . well, we won’t say obsessively. But often.

Recently, however, a rather unique poll was brought to my attention–the UPI/CVOTER/WIN-Gallup International Poll. The poll asked 26,000 people in 30 countries outside the U.S. how they would cast their vote for President of the United States of America if they were allowed to vote in our election.

A whopping 81% went with Barack Obama. Many countries polled well over 90% for him. In Iceland it reached a nearly universal 99%. Romney, on the other hand, led the polls in just one country: Israel. And even in Israel, his 65% was anemic compared to the overwhelming popularity of his rival everywhere else.

Although Obama’s lead is also widening at home, the race is much closer here than it is for people abroad. What is it that makes them all so sure? Well, I’ll let the candidates speak for themselves.

Here’s Romney’s foreign policy in a nutshell, straight off his website:

“I am here today to tell you that I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century. In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.”

Do you hear what I hear? Step out of your own shoes for a moment and imagine that you’re hearing about Romney’s “conviction and passion” with the ears of an Englishman, a child in Afghanistan, or a woman in Sudan. What can you expect from this man if he becomes the most powerful man in the world?

To round out the general impression, we have what can only appear to the outside world as a systematic campaign of insults to other countries (politely described as “gaffes”), along with Romney’s blusteringly naive description of the President’s brilliant tactful diplomacy as “weak.” As Karl Inderfurth puts it, in Romney’s projected foreign policy we see a return of the “swagger” of George W. Bush. Heaven help us all.

By contrast, here’s an excerpt from President Obama’s speech to world leaders at the United Nations this week:

“So much attention in our world turns to what divides us. That’s what we see on the news, and that consumes our political debates. But when you strip that all away, people everywhere long for the freedom to determine their destiny; the dignity that comes with work; the comfort that comes from faith; and the justice that exists when governments serve their people – and not the other way around.

The United States of America will always stand up for these aspirations, for our own people, and all across the world.”

The vibe’s a little different, isn’t it? In Obama’s message, and in his actions as president, I see a strong ability to listen to and communicate effectively with people of other nations and cultures. I see a skillful use of tactful diplomacy to resolve problems, avoid escalating conflicts, and calm the strident voices that scream for war. I see a real commitment to respecting the leaders and people of other countries, and working together to make the world safer, more prosperous, and better for all of us.

He lacks the hubris that puts the United States at the center of the universe. He quotes Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. He appeals to the “better angels of our nature.” And so to me, it’s no surprise that people polled around the world look to him as someone they can trust to put the interest of humanity above narrow national interests.

Well, why does it matter? Those people can’t vote anyway.

No, they can’t. But that doesn’t mean that the man in the Oval Office doesn’t affect their lives. Sixty-two percent of polled individuals said that American elections highly impacted their own countries. America influences the world economically, culturally, militarily, and in a myriad of other ways. The world desperately needs a U.S. President who can build on common ground, bring people together, and set an example of wisdom, restraint, and moral courage.

To put it bluntly, when I consider America’s superior military capability and the past ten long years of wars abroad, it is clear that for many people, the choice of who becomes President of the United States may be literally a matter of life and death.

I believe in God. And I believe that every person living on this earth is a child of God. Every person. Italians. Pakistanis. Colombians. Congolese. Iranians. In this election, I vote for my brothers and sisters who can do nothing but look on in awe, in suspense, in dread, as in a very real way we decide not only our own fate, but the fate of the world.

These people may speak different languages, pray in different ways, and live very different lives from mine. But like them, I long desperately for a world of hope, of understanding, and of peace. This election, I vote for them; for us; for the belief that we can stand together and choose respect, love and solidarity over superciliousness, hate and war. My vote is a vote for the voiceless.

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11 thoughts on “Why I am Voting for Barack Obama

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  • October 31, 2012 at 1:04 am
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    Thank you for saying what many people feel. I always feel like I am voting for many more people than just me. My vote is mine to choose, but my kids always get the chance to give me their opinions.

    I couldn’t vote without thinking about how those I vote for will treat all of my siblings throughout the world. I am okay with Patrick’s characterization of those in other countries, who see all of the citizens of their countries as worthy of being cared for. I consider myself to be a child of God and member of Christ’s church first, a member of the global community second, and a citizen of the United States (with heavy responsibilities because the disproportionate blessings I enjoy with that citizenship) fourth or fifth, after being a mother, daughter and friend, and my state and community.

    I realize that many people would tell me I am not a real American and I have been told that if I love the rest of the world so mucho should leave the USA. If I was only deciding for me, I might make the choice to live in a country more in line with the teachings of Christ, and that minimizes the prosperity doctrine that took over American Mormons. (Of course not all, but way too many, IMO.) I don’t because The Lord planted me here, and I have received continuing promptings that I am here to be true to myself and work to change institutions from the inside. I honestly think that if the church came out with a clear statement about the prosperity doctrine, that it would be pretty hard to justify most of our foreign policy.

    Thanks Sarah for your always thoughtful posts!
    (I leave the link to my post on how I voted, as soon as it is goes up on MFO and will include the link to this post on the cross post on my blog.)

  • October 16, 2012 at 10:34 am
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    Ciao Sarah. I just found your blog in the expat women directory. I’m an Italian (Sicilian) woman living in the USA. It is so nice to “meet” someone who love my Country like you :)

  • October 4, 2012 at 7:40 am
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    The only reason other countries poll for Obama is that they are socialist too and several leaning toward Communism. If he wins it will be a very lame-duck 4 years.

  • October 1, 2012 at 9:04 am
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    Sweet post. I think this is what many people do when they vote against strongly pro-abortion candidates. They feel unborn babies are the ones who have the weakest voices of all. Not that Romney will change anything, but apparently Obama hasn’t been the greatest on the foreign front either if this article is true. Oddly, I had saved some articles to read at a later date and just read this one right before I read your post.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/liberals-need-to-start-holding-obama-responsible-for-his-policies/261399/

    I enjoyed your post. Many great points, and good food for thought. I agree that the Republicans often sound so arrogant! I think I’m voting for the Libertarian candidate once again this year.

  • September 30, 2012 at 7:09 am
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    What a great post, thank you so much for researching, processing, and expertly verbalizing what is so hard to put to words.

  • September 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm
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    Yep.

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