Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tanzania for Obama

This U.S. election, the first presidential election that I’ll vote in as a father, is being touted as the election of a generation. Looking at the past eight years, I can’t help but wonder about how the world might have been a little bit more welcoming and a little bit more sane for Bodie had those elections turned out differently. The President certainly doesn’t have all the powers and accountabilities that the public so often hangs on him, but it sure has been frighteningly informative seeing what one person can do to tank a country's morale and its perception around the world.

Thinking about what kind of country I want Bodie to be part of definitely influences how I think of the candidates and the importance of this contest. I don’t want him to grow up in a world polarized by hatred or distrusted because he is American.

Last week I went over to a friend’s house to watch the first McCain/Obama debate being rebroadcast on Armed Forces Television. As I was racing to get there, about as excited and filled with anticipation as I’ve been in a while, it occurred to me what an absolute geek I’ve become. Not enough to wake up and watch it at 4 a.m. in real-time (which, truth be told, I might have done had we had a television), but based on level of excitement, pretty damn geeky nonetheless.

Being this far from the action, from the relentless political advertising, the minute-by-minute media critiques, and from the regular dinner table updates on gaffes, we feel removed from an important campaign. We cheered Obama’s PowerPoint approach to the economy (Tactics 1, 2, 3 and 4), and jeered McCain’s patronizing. We rooted like it was a World Cup soccer match.

Last night, we got as close to the action as we could by going to a “Tanzania for Obama” party designed to be “a celebration and show of support for Barack Obama.” Situated at a beachfront restaurant, the party was not so much a political rally as an excuse to sit under a thatched roof by the ocean, listen to loud club music and drink a beer.

A table to the side had a full line of T-shirts with a picture and slogan “Tanzania for Obama”. Since kanghas, large squares of bright fabric, are the standard dress for most African women, someone had produced a line of red, white and blue ones with Obama’s picture, and slogans printed around the edges “Yes, we can” and “Change you can believe in” in both English and Swahili.

I was thinking that this party would be an absolute YouTube bonanza for the Republicans. ”Look,” might say Sarah Palin, “You betcha those people in Tanzanistan love Obama, cause he’s one of them, not ‘Merican like you and me.”

While driving the baby sitter home afterwards, she said, “it would be the first time that we Africans have had an American president, so that would be good.” An interesting perspective, although doubtful one that would be helpful in the campaigning in, say, Ohio.

Speaking of Ohio, we are offering our guest room as a nice vacation spot close to the beach for the first 10,000 McCain supporters from Ohio. Availability is limited to the first week in November.

1 comment:

Mahlers On Safari said...

Hey Alfred.

Seems like all the bloggers in TZ are writing about Obama this week!

Hope you come to Yom Kippur. You missed quite a "show" last week at Rosh Hashana.