Southern Exposure

Desde as Entranhas dos Labirintos Latinos.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Getting Endorsed

I am essentially repeating here a modified form of a post I have just put up over at Fistful of Euros. Understandably the focus is different: who - if anyone - should Latin America endorse in the US presidential elections?

As it happens here the big news of the week must be the endorsement of Howard Dean by Al Gore. A somewhat smaller, but still interesting, development - although this isn't exactly new, but simply new to my attention - is the fact that someone has created an Economists for Dean weblog.

They contacted me this morning and I discover that I've been blogrolled - along with Paul Krugman and Brad Delong, among others. Now the first question which reasonably arises here is what place do non-US citizens have in a US presidential election? Normally my answer would be, precious little. I say this not simply because elections are not one of my strong points, but also because I think we have to respect due political process. The Americans choose their president, the British their Prime Minister and the Germans their Chancellor, and there the story ends. But at the moment something seems to be different.

It is different because the current US administration seems to see part of its function as 'remodelling the world' - and in this case we are all, each and every one of us, affected. It is also different because the Bush administration is fuelling a level of rhetorical abuse and international tension of the kind that I, for one, cannot remember having seen before. So if we want to live in a more peaceful world, one were each of us has a say, and one which has a much lower level of verbal pollution, then we'd better listen up and start thinking. In a global world you need to think globally.

So I am convinced, not of the need to endorse any specific candidate, but of the need to dis-endorse Bush. Having said that I have, in the past, come pretty close to endorsing Wesley Clark. I have been tempted by Clark since he seems highly intelligent, knowledgeable in the key global strategic questions, and above all do-able, in the sense that he could win. This is the famous voice of pragmatism. Equally pragmatic would be my willingness to support Colin Powell, if he would only give us the opportunity, or even, at a push, Swartznegger: anyone with whom dialogue would be possible. This is certainly not a party partisan argument I'm trying to push.

But what about Howard Dean? Actually he does seem quite attractive on the face of things. He is, after all, the David going out to do battle with Goliath. Whatsmore he does seem to be the candidate of the new technologies, and his endorsement by Gore only serves to underline this. It is my firm opinion that one of the greatest lasting failings of the Bush administration, as far as the average American is concerned, will turn out to be the emphasis on old economy interests.

On the negative side, they tell me that Dean has been flirting with protectionism. Undoubtedly there are other weaknesses there of which I am not aware. So what I would like to do here is throw this open to debate, there seem to be a number of pertinent questions to ask:

- should Latin Americans involve themselves in US elections?
- if they should, and going by the running field we have to date, is Dean the man?
- and would it be better or worse for the candidate to have support from Latin America?

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