Will Obama be the first cosmopolitan elected official? Everything points to an affirmative answer — on both counts. Surely, he is the first ever to be so multicultural with a Kenyan father, a US citizen mother, born in Hawaii, raised in Jakarta. He is also the first to make campaign abroad, the first who understands that we live in a globalised but unequal world, where one country’s decisions affect millions of other lives in other countries. He is the first to address other audiences than the American one, and to proclaim solemnly being a ‘citizen of the world’.
Of course, America’s power is in decline. Its economy is in recession and triggered a financial crisis that is affecting the whole world, except countries too poor to be part of the financial market, but which will suffer more harshly than the riches nonetheless.Bush and his administration did much harm to one of America’s most fundamental pillar of foreign policy: being a beacon for democracy and liberty in the world. The jails of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are the most representative examples. Consequently, America’s ‘soft power’ — to take Joseph Nye’s expression — is in decline as well. Everything points to a decline of its military power also, not only because of financial constraints in the budget, but also because of severe limitations within the inside and the outside to America’s future involvements in military actions — at least unilateral ones.
On the other side, we can see growing forces that tend to signify the beginning of a new era in world politics, which experts are calling ‘a-polarity’. A-polarity because several countries or entities will be in a position of power, without having the possibility to impose its power. There will thus not be multipolarity — in which there is some stability — but a-polarity — where instability prevails. Russia and China — and to a lesser extent India — are developing worrying patterns of neo-nineteenth-century-nationalism. The sneaky planned intervention in Georgia and South Ossetia, and the relaxed nationalist diatribes to reinstall a great Russia by military means are worrying for a secure world order. Similarly and on the politics of symbolism and in political economy, China’s nationalist ambitions to restore a great China for the sole sake of nationalist pride is equally worrying.
Therefore, in these troubled times to come, knowing that a man shows so clear understanding of the need to co-operate, the need to take multilateral actions, the need to take into considerations other citizens in the world who will be affected by USA’s actions, is a hope that is not negligible. Never has the need for hope and change from the United States of America been so great. Never a man has gathered so vastly opinions in the world for a local election. Never have I, and everyone else in the world, expressed so much interest in a local election. Never a man has made it almost the first global democratic election. And this is because we, citizens of this world, need change. And all together — not the USA alone, not Europe alone, not anyone else in this world by themselves — all together, ‘yes, we can’, change the world for the better.