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5 November 2012

I hope Obama loses, even if the rest of the world wants him to win

Obama is popular in Africa. It doesn't make him the right choice (Photo: AFP/Getty)

YouGov has revealed that 70 per cent of British adults would vote for Barack Obama and only seven per cent for Mitt Romney. (I don’t know the figures for my native Ireland, but I’d expected them to be 99 to one.) Now even I – who thought an arrogant, cerebral academic lawyer who had climbed the greasy pole of Chicago politics from community activist to senator in about five minutes singularly unqualified to be president – had a lump in my throat when he was elected. It was, damn it, moving to see a mixed-race man with a black wife being voted in by a largely white electorate.

The same emotion gripped me when a woman (Margaret Thatcher, for whom I hadn’t voted either) landed in Downing Street (OK, Ok, OK, I know I should have voted for her but I was a bit focussed on the issue of capital punishment), so no doubt I’d have also have been emoting had Hillary Clinton made it instead of Obama.

However, since apart from that election when I failed to support Thatcher, I tend mostly to use head rather than heart when thinking about politics and believe Romney better equipped to make Washington work, I hope Obama loses, though it leaves me out of step with most of my friends and apparently the entire world other than Israel.

The Guardian has obligingly provided an overview of which countries and which regions want which US presidential candidate to win. You’ll be astonished to learn that, although they’re disappointed that Obama’s done so little for them, Africans are behind him all the way and most European countries are even more anti-Romney than the UK. As is Iran. And so on and on and on.

It truly doesn’t matter much who or what members of the general public around the world think should win elections in countries that are not their own. It’s only political anoraks that follow elections abroad, so most people a) have no idea of the true merits of foreign candidates or parties, and b) mostly (and reasonably) considering the matter from the perspective of their own national interest. My hope for America is that the electorate has done some homework, had a bit of a serious think and will vote for whomever they think will do the best for their country. For the better man will also do a better job for the whole world.

Ruth Dudley Edwards


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