Punchinello’s Chronicles

October 13, 2008

Electing Obama Would Send a Message

Filed under: Foolish Rants — Punchinello @ 7:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

A reader posted a comment the other day, suggesting that the international community believes that Mr. Obama would make a better president than Mr. McCain. Part of the argument is that the sales feature would be Obama’s willingness to work with foreign leaders. The supposition is that McCain would maintain the perception of America as a maverick, disinterested in world opinion.

What it comes down to is a direct and absolute argument about one of the most dangerous catch-phrases in modern history: Everyone has a right to their own opinion, THEREFORE all opinions are equally valid!


The idea is to “send a message” to the rest of the world that America is…something. That’s another soapbox issue of mine, this whole concept of sending a message. What message?

We hear the phrase just about everywhere. “Mom and Dad, you shouldn’t argue in front of the children. It sends a message.” Schools, people, authorities, government, companies; everyone is busy sending messages all over the place. The problem is nobody knows what these messages actually are saying.

“Send a message” is a wonderful catch-all. It’s vague, has no real meaning, and anyone can claim the message they’re hearing is whatever the feel like it should be. All these messages, though, are implied, not explicit. When asked to fully articulate the supposed message, we end up with only an interpretation. And that isn’t the same as reality.

If I want to send a message, I’ll tell someone: “Meet me for lunch at Burger King at 1 o’clock. Bring money!”

Now that’s a message! On the other hand, what if I just show up at Burger King, standing around waiting for something to happen? Am I sending a message that America doesn’t care for its poor and its hungry? Am I sending a message that corporate greed has reduced odd-looking people like me to joblessness? Am I sending a message that civilization is wiping out the wetlands that might have been there, for our flying feathered friends?

Of course not! But I could say that if I wanted to. Who’s to argue? Since the message isn’t explicit, and we’re making believe there’s a message at all, then it can be whatever the heck we want it to be, say, mean, or pretend.

Amercia is already sending a message, loud and clear around the world. That message has been clear and true since the inception of the country. “We are a free people, where every citizen has the opportunity to make something better of their lives. We are not slaves to a totalitarian dictator, we choose who will lead us and how we will live.”

Now that’s a message!

Why should we send hidden messages of subtle but unknown content to foreign nations? They’ve pretty well figured out exactly what America is all about. Ah, it but comes down to choosing a fundamental style of living. Shall we live according to what everyone around us thinks, believes, or feels?

Remember high school? You had to make a choice as to whether you’d make your own decisions, develop your own integrity, and define your own life. If not, then you chose to follow the pack, join the cliques, and to be swayed by public opinion as to anything that ever happened in life.

Is that what we want for America? Should we become a kow-tow nation, currying favors and scrambling to be liked? Will fawning and flattery, empty promises and being the world’s “yes-man” build our respect and credibility?

There’s a clear and basic difference between being a bully, and being decisive. America should be led by principles and ideals, trying the best we can as a nation to bring those ideals into reality. We may fail, or only get things partially right, but we’ll keep trying. Our political leaders should represent those ideals.

We’re not looking to follow a person. We’re not interested in following a program. We want to reach a set of goals based on priciples and ideals. One of us must ultimately make decisions as to the best options to choose. As such, we want that person to have a clear vision of the ideal America.

At the moment, not one of our politicians seems to have any vision at all. Then again, neither do most citizens have any ideals or principles. So it’s the blind leading the blind. Maybe that’s the “message” we need to send: “Send over a sonar system and a navigator right away! We’re traveling blind!”

Anyone who leads on the basis of principles and ideals also ignores the crowd, complaints, whining, and fear of those who follow. Ignoring those other voices and opinions has nothing whatsoever to do with isolationism, power manipulation or bullying. It has everything to do with paying attention to something far greater than the consensus and crowd mentality: Ideas.

We sure don’t need to define the very basis of our nation’s leadership just to “send a message.” The message we ought to be sending is very clear. It’s that we have an ideal vision for this country and for the world at large. That vision is founded on principles and ideals of individual freedom, liberties, and rights.

Anyone who wants to come along and join us is free to do so. Anyone who’s afraid of those ideas can hoot and holler all they want, we don’t give a damn. What’s the compromise to freedom? What’s the alternative to individual liberties? Why do we need a consensus opinion that mankind becomes triumphant and joyful with our form of government and freedoms?

We don’t. People are either free or not. It’s an either-or decision, a binary option. There isn’t anything in between. We don’t need to “send a message” that we’re willing to listen to some alternative idea. There isn’t one!



  1. Let’s discuss this further. First of all, you can’t deny that at this point in time, The US is woefully out of favor with a vast chunk of the Western and Non-Western world. Read any blog, web site, or watch any number of videos from around the world. They think we’re idiots. Personally, I don’t blame them.

    Now… whether you want to admit it or not, one crucial element in regards to political stance is perception. Don’t believe me? Lets use economics as an example. On any given day, all it takes is a tiny belief or perception to either cause a huge growth or depletion in gains. A good example was that a few weeks ago, a rumor was spread that Steve Jobs was having health issues. Even though this was absurdly false, Apple stock dropped dramatically on the “news”.

    Just the same, Mr. Bush is viewed by the majority of the world as a misguided fool. Perhaps this is undeserved. Perhaps he is really a genius. But a combination of his actions and decisions have dealt his image a severe blow. Being the representational figurehead of our country, he also gives we as Americans some of that image. You can’t deny this. This in turn causes we as a country to lose credibility and limits in many ways our ability to broker international deals.

    So as cosmetic as it might be-yes perception, image, and character are indeed part of the reasons why people, countries, and groups like or dislike us. The same goes for Mccain. Nevermind that Sarah Palin knows next to nothing about politics, abused her powers as Governor or has a 17 year old pregnant daughter( which whoas me breaks the law with some of these “Christian Family Value” types). Her followers LOVE her not because she’s the right person for the job, but because they project their own beliefs, religion, and “values” onto her and ignore the words coming out of her mouth.

    To be fair, the same thing is true for Obama. But there’s a difference here, and this is perhaps the most crucial. In the case of Mccain and Palin, their chosen personality to attract are “hard-workin, small town America, Family value folks” In other words- the resigned proletariat. This spectrum is fairly narrow and as seen with the percentages at their rallies is overwhelmingly older, white, conservative males. In other words, the followers of Mccain tend to have a very specific character/value system.

    In the case of Obama- who as of late has been in every community ranging from poor black ghettos, upscale white suburbs, and rural working class white neighborhoods in the South. If you look at the crowds that show up to his rallies, they are more diversified ranging in all ethnic, religious, and racial groups. This suggests the opposite, which is that Obama has a broad, less specific personality in which a broad range of personality/value types can project their values and beliefs.

    When we elect someone like George Bush, the message to the world is that we’re a country of conservative, regressive citizens with a narrow belief system. This is seen as being less flexible. If someone like Obama gets elected, the results would be the opposite.

    My last comment is that I don’t base my political decisions on character. I base them on actions. The Mccain campaign has been a disaster. If he can’t manage a campaign, then he is unfit to manage a country. Its as simple as that.

    Comment by bob — October 14, 2008 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

  2. I agree that the US is out of favor with many nations, and heroic in the perception of other nations. It simply isn’t relevant to a presidential election, and only marginally relevant to ongoing foreign policy.

    The United States isn’t stupid, nor do we live in a vacuum. But it’s our own best interests that come first, not the perceptions, feelings, and worries of other nations. The issue isn’t whether or not foreign countries like or dislike America; who cares? The issue is whether or not our own president-elect has our own best interests at the forefront.

    We live in a global economy, much of it created by American, European, and Japanese corporations. That economy relies less and less on what any government thinks or has to say about anything. Ironically, because of that global economy, even the US government is becoming less relevant to how the overall world works: Excepting that our US dollars are the foundation of many international currencies.

    If the US decides to do something, who’s going to stop us? Even more important, and the basis for this so-called foreign perception: If the US decides not to do something, who’s going to force us to do it anyway? Nobody.

    Comment by Punchinello — October 14, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  3. I agree with you on some of the things you said. But as you correctly mentioned, we’re no longer the country we were even a generation ago. The truth of the matter is that China will likely be the world leader in less than a generation. We have US companies to thank in part for going for cheap and exporting manufacturing overseas. Hell- even some Chevrolets these days come equipped with Chinese engines.

    But in today’s world, business is what drives politics, and in many instances, politicians are the front end men for brokering trading relationships with other countries. For example, China has been getting very friendly with Russia, Venezuela, and other oil rich countries. Why? Because they will soon have a hell of a lot more cars than us. At this moment, less than 10% of the Chinese population drives. Yet if even 30% did today, they would eclipse us in terms of fuel usage. That means they’re being smart and by acting courteously with other oil producers stand a chance to have a more favorable trading status over say- the US which has had a less friendly relationship with those same countries.

    it is vitally important that we better manage our relationships with even our enemy countries. I don’t care what others say, but eventually it is likely that most any country will have nuclear capabilities. it is stupid to assume that technological hurdles are too much for even the poorest country. Thus we’re rapidly approaching an era where conventional warfare will be out of the question. In that case, more focus will need to be shifted towards careful diplomacy, and in my opinion that relies on less aggressive tactics. Again, this in many ways comes back to character and personality. Make your friends and enemies respect you as a person and you can go a lot further than with issuing threats.

    I’ve watched all the debates and read a lot of stories. I think Obama keeps a pretty cool head about things, which is needed in a environment such as ours.

    Comment by bob — October 14, 2008 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

  4. China is about to have a bubble pop. They have fundamental problems with their not-quite capitalist organization, and their population distribution. Then there’s the wage differences. Taken together, along with the near complete reliance on exports, it’s doubtful China will be “the” world leader any time soon. They’ll be a very strong nation, if they don’t implode, but they have to get past that first.

    The whole point is that business leaders make their own agreements and decisions. They don’t need politicians. The politicians can either make life easier and attractive to global commerce, or difficult and unattractive. Either way, the corporations either do business in a country, or leave.

    Finally, it isn’t at all stupid to assume technology hurdles are too much for poor countries. They simply are. Technology doesn’t and can’t happen without a huge political, infrastructure, and investment framework. The only way technology enters a Third World nation is when a global enterprise creates it. The nation gets the benefit of copying and learning, but they can’t create it. Not in any way such as to impact on First World nations.

    The technology going to Second and Third World nations is already obsolete in First World countries. As such, that technology helps build an economy and offers a product to the next-lower nations. China is assembling US products cheaply and sending them back to us, but they’re not creating any new big-ticket or high-technology items. That’ll take awhile.

    Business doesn’t drive politics. Business is one thing, politics is rapidly becoming unrelated. What a country does internal to its borders is that country’s own choice. If they go along with a desire to enter the global markets, fine. If not, that’s fine too. What matters is a healthy environment for doing business, and that means a legal system, property rights, an economy, an infrastructure, and an educated population.

    Comment by Punchinello — October 14, 2008 @ 7:20 pm | Reply

  5. My comments in regards to third world countries procuring harmful technology has parallels to past history. A perfect example is conventional firearms. When the Dutch first set into the Japanese interior, they brought with them guns, which had previously never been seen in Japan. The country was besieged by continuous Shogun family warfare using traditional weapons. I don’t recall the specific name, but a shogunate family fought against another with guns, essentially massacring the entire opposing family. Shortly afterwards, Japan gained a national government. Guns were outlawed because they were deemed to devastating to use in battle. They viewed guns much the same way we view nuclear weapons: too brutal to ever use since they results are highly destructive.

    As we see, guns today are universally seen as “conventional” weapons with the ability to cheaply manufacture. The same could ultimately be true for Nuclear weapons. That’s a scary thought. Its clear that most enemies of ours have gained much knowledge in their development in a short period of time.

    Comment by bob — October 15, 2008 @ 11:34 am | Reply

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