Thursday, April 10, 2008

Democracy in Action

A few weeks ago my company decided to make its four divisions more independent of one another and spun us off into subsidiaries (or something like that).

In the aftermath of the conversion, our parent company - United Business Media, a London-based company that trades on the London Stock Exchange - sent the CEO, David Levin, to talk about how these decisions were made and what they mean for the company.

The most uplifting and interesting thing that Levin said, however, was not about our company, but rather, our country. As a European, he said, America was upping it's democracy street cred (my words) by showing that it's efforts around the world to promote free and fair elections and government of and by the people wasn't actually a convoluted power grab or a scam. The Democratic primary, in which our field of many has been narrowed to a neck-and-neck battle between Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, is being viewed by the globe as America practicing what it preaches.

They're interested in watching what happens. As much as we are. And the beauty of the system is that we watch and wait, and we take whatever result we get. (The 2000 election being a particularly sticky situation...) And they watch as we move from state to state to state.

I don't remember ever hearing about the Pennsylvania or Texas or Michigan or Florida primaries growing up. By Iowa it was locked up, wasn't it? But now, even citizens in far-flung Asian countries are talking Superdelegates, according to Richard Cohen in today's NY Times.

Click through on the title link to read the full article. He talks about other stuff, but in the beginning, he echos Levin's sentiment. Which almost gives me hope.

Asia’s Republican Leanings

Published: April 10, 2008

JAKARTA

Europe votes Democrat, but Asia tends Republican.

That’s the headline from the fastest-growing part of the world where, as throughout a shrinking globe, the U.S. election is arousing passionate interest. Many a Shanghai dumpling gets slurped to the accompaniment of chat about superdelegates.

Eric John, the U.S. ambassador to Thailand, told me the campaign was “the best public diplomacy tool I’ve had in a long time.”

Democracy at work is riveting. In Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain, America has produced three remarkable candidates. It’s not surprising that a recent BBC World Service global survey showed positive views of the United States increasing for the first time in years. The rise was to 35 percent from 31 percent a year earlier. Negative views fell to 47 percent from 52 percent.

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