Wind of change

President Barack Obama waives to supporters gathered near the Wisconsin state Capitol, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

All the discussion throughout the United States’ electoral campaign about the country’s waning power and relevance across the globe is somewhat belied by the attention that the presidential race has achieved worldwide.

The way the whole world is waiting for the elections and the results and has followed up on the campaign in traditional and social media makes it very clear that America’s leadership interests the whole world.

This is the case in countries with leanings across the board, whether they are friends or foes of America, or whether they vacillate in their friendliness.

The election will of course herald some change, whatever its outcome. Should Barack Obama be re-elected it will be as a president with less to fear, able to work without constant consideration of the effects on the likelihood of his re-election.

Mitt Romney, of course, is trying to outbid and outdo Obama, and obviously is at pains to highlight his differences to his opponent.

Nonetheless, under close inspection it is clear that as far as foreign policy is concerned the two candidates do not differ substantially.

While foreign policy is a very important issue in American politics, it still plays second fiddle among voters to those issues that affect the livelihood and economy of U.S. citizens.

Those are the issues that will decide the election, and those are the issues upon which the U.S. citizens will vote. It is important for those across the rest of the world, pinning so much on the outcome of the election to remember that.

American presidents certainly have their own style when it comes to enacting policy, but policies are nonetheless made by institutions in America.

The American election has occupied pundits and newspaper columnists across the world for weeks, but it is important not to forget that the results of the election will be neither the end of the world nor the beginning of any major change in U.S. foreign interests. Those policies will still be dictated by what benefits the United States as a country, one of the few times when politicians are brought together without the usual stratifications.

The election gives those in this part of the world a glimpse of the direction America is going in, and perhaps by extension the direction of the rest of the world, who often find themselves following in the U.S.’ wake.

So the world waits on the results of the election largely to see who will be the face of the policies it will have to deal with over the next four years, and to discover the personality that will be pushing the global strategies that are decided by America’s overarching foreign policy, which bridges its domestic political divides.

The results of Tuesday’s election will not herald any change of policy overnight. They may give us an indication of the direction of the wind now and into the future, but they are really nothing more than a breeze. Nonetheless, citizens and governments in countries across the world will be pinned to the results as they roll in, anxious to watch democracy in action.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 06, 2012, on page 7.




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