Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Global Election Results

November 5, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

"The Whole World is Watching!"

Millions of Americans watched the results coalesce last evening, from 1% returns until the time when it finally became safe to believe that Senator Obama had actually won.

There were the U.S. Senate and House races, in sum a "national election" of their own to watch, district and state at a time, by both those who wanted the evening to end with a divided government and those who did not.

And the local races, and issues: Here in Johnson County the voters' acceptance of the conservation bond was a big one for me -- and something of a cliff hanger, as the early returns had it passing by 70%, before it finally came to rest at 61% -- just barely over the 60% required. Given the enormous campaign by the nay-sayers, both in money and with their thousands of misleading Robo-Calls, it's a great tribute to the sense of voters in troubling economic times that they saw sufficient value in protecting the environment, preserving our land and water, providing more recreational use, and taking meaningful steps to reduce the economic loss from flooding that they were willing to take on an additional $20 million of property tax obligation ("$2.20 a month").

But when the television started showing the dancing in Kenya, I was reminded that the BBC World Service has been telling us for weeks that ours really was a global election. Everyone in the world is affected by whomever we may select as our president. And they know it. It's just that we don't let them vote. It's our own little "Vote locally, impact globally" exercise.

When the police began beating the demonstrators in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic National Convention there 40 years ago, the demonstrators chanted, "The whole world is watching!" And it was.

It was also watching this year, and last night -- a much more peaceful scene.

Before I went to bed, and again this morning, I turned to my "The Global Press" Web site to see just how many were watching.

Here's a sampling of the papers reporting on our election. The stories were almost universally positive -- sometimes enthusiastically so. Indeed, the caution it raises for me is that Obama's overwhelming success and impact contain the seeds of one of his greatest challenges: how to deal with the excessive, exaggerated, and sometimes wildly unrealistic, expectations of those who voted for him in this country, and those who wished they could have who live in other countries.

Here's the Newseum's collection of the front pages of the world's papers reporting our election.

Here are some of the papers I've been reading that report the "global story" of what we did yesterday:

Al Jazeera, Doha

Al Rafidayn, Baghdad

Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo

Dawn, Karachi

El Mercurio, Santiago

Iran Daily, Tehran ("World Hopes for a Less Arrogant America" -- "the globe geared up to celebrate a fresh start for America after eight wearisome years of George W. Bush")

Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem

Kenya Times, Nairobi

La Nacion, San José

Le Monde, Paris ("Les Etats-Unis ont surmonté les démons du passé")

New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur

O Estado de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo

Pajhwok Afghan News, Kabul

People's Daily, Beijing

Pravda, Moscow ("Yet in choosing Obama, the people of America have opted to come back into the international fold. Welcome back, friends!" -- replacing last evening's headline, "The end of eight years of hell.")

South China Morning Post, Hong Kong

Times of India, New Delhi

9:30 a.m. Having written the above, I now discover that the New York Times is once again showing off one of the advantages it has over bloggers: reporters around the world. For what they have to say about the world's reactions to what we've done, see "Reactions From Around the World," New York Times, November 5, 2008, 2:47 a.m. CT -- and don't miss the additional comments added by Times' readers from around the world to that Times' Web page.

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