Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Still no votes in Leipzig

From Guardian Still no votes in Leipzig argues that the world should get to vote in American elections. Sounds crazy of course, especially since
Besides, every good Republican knows the world is solid Kerry territory. A survey by pollsters HI Europe earlier this month found that, if Europeans had a vote, they would back Kerry over Bush by a 6 to 1 margin. Bush would win just 6% in Germany, 5% in Spain and a measly 4% in France. No Republican is going to cede turf like that to the enemy.
But the piece highlights a dilemma (which Niall Ferguson and others have pointed out): How to run an Empire and a Republic (in the "democratic" sense of the word) at the same time? Of course the British had no such problems in India, back then nobody (nobody important, anyway) argued that the Indians should have a right to decide their own future. The early Americans had a different view:
That 1776 declaration is worth rereading. Its very first sentence demands "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind": isn't that exactly what the world would like from America today? The document goes on to excoriate the distant emperor George for his recklessness, insisting that authority is only legitimate when it enjoys "the consent of the governed". As the world's sole superpower, the US now has global authority. But where is the consent?
What little consent the world once had is vaning quickly under Bush...

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