While paying attention to what is happening in Kenya, I’ve picked up the buzz on Obama amongst commentators there, and even one of the best Kenyan commentators on the situation stumbles when it comes to our Byzantine nomination process. It’s no surprise since I’m still confused about it myself. I posted the following:
The American political system is a bit different from the one you suggest. First, no one will choose between Obama, Clinton and McCain. Obama and Clinton are fighting for their party’s nomination; McCain belongs to a different party. The people making this decision are the party faithful – the iPod listening rally attendees that you mention. That decision must be made at the latest by Aug during the party’s national convention. After that the winner will face the winner of the other (Republican) party – most likely John McCain at this point – in the general election in November.
So in the end it will be either Obama vs. McCain or Hillary vs. McCain. That’s when the votes of the common people will count.
Second, there is less of a difference between the two parties here in America than any two parties in Europe or Asia. Yes McCain is a white man, Hillary a woman and Obama a black man. However if they were politicians in the UK they would probably all three belong to the Conservative party. Liberal/Conservative in the USA does not = Liberal/Conservative elsewhere. The US is actually more conservative than the two party system would have you believe.
Third, Obama is a “rock star” and popular – but this popularity isn’t due to his policies; it’s more due to no one really knowing what those policies are. He’s critical of the war in Iraq, but will he remove troops from the land at a time when the bloodshed is declining and peace gradually seeping into a land that has been at war for decades? While the anti-war folks are wearing iPods and attending rallies, their message hasn’t exactly resonated with the bulk of the masses here in the US. In fact as far as anti-war movements go, this has to be one of the least effective ever mounted. The campaign to keep the USA neutral prior to World War 2 was much more effective in terms of setting the agenda, and the Vietnam protests were much more galvanizing for public opinion than the current crop of protests has been.
As that issue recedes and the American economy cools, focus has turned to jobs and the economy. What’s Obama’s stance on illegal immigration? What will he do to help alleviate the debt burden on average Americans? What does he propose to do to stop the flow of jobs abroad? How does he feel about Abortion? Gun control? I don’t know – and I’m one of the people following politics. Once these stances become known, his popularity will lessen.
Finally regarding Africa, yes he’s a black man – but that doesn’t guarantee he will pay more attention to the “plight” of Africa than a white man. It’s a very racist to think that one cares more about the land where his ancestors came from hundreds of years ago than someone else. Mine came from Germany – does this mean that I care more about Germany than I do Kenya? The fact that I’m reading your posts about Kenya, have been there and to Tanzania several times, and speak ki-Swahili better than Deutsch should disprove that.
Given the dire situation in Kenya, Kenyans must focus on solving their crisis and stop hoping for someone else to fix it. America cannot save Kenya, neither can the UK, the UN or the AU - or any other outside organization. Kenyans need to decide for themselves if they are going to allow their nation to fall apart violently like Yugoslavia, turn to genocide as in Rwanda, or whether they are going to rise up and replace the leadership that has failed them so miserably over the past weeks.
There is much for Kenyans to do; the election in America is only a distraction from the work and hard decisions that lay ahead.
As you’ll see in the comments M – the writer of ThinkersRoom – took offense at my comment. S/he should have because s/he never wrote asking for an outside savior for Kenya. I was wrong to associate him/her with that meme, and I’ve apologized here, on ThinkersRoom and in a private email. I try to live my life as honestly as possible, and what can I say. I screwed up. No excuses or “re-do”s.