As an American, I’ve found myself dizzied by the hypocrisy of the midterm election: a majority of people reported that the economy was their number one concern, and yet they overwhelmingly voted against the president who has been bringing the economy back on track and instead gave the reins back to a political party which was almost entirely responsible for derailing it in the first place. So if I was confused, imagine how it must look to the outside observer. Americans must look nuts.
To get a sense of just how baffled the rest of the world is at how Americans voted this year, we find a Letter to the Editor of a Detroit newspaper, written by a Canadian who just doesn’t get it. First noticed by Rick Strandlof who tweeted a picture of it, the piece, published by the Detroit Free Press, is devastating. Titled “You Americans have no idea just how good you have it with Obama,” the author, Victoria, British Columbia resident Richard Brunt, goes on to list an impressive array of accomplishments under Obama – none of which the American voter seemed the least bit interested in.
The letter reads:
Many of us Canadians are confused by the U.S. midterm elections. Consider, right now in America, corporate profits are at record highs, the country’s adding 200,000 jobs per month, unemployment is below 6%, U.S. gross national product growth is the best of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The dollar is at its strongest levels in years, the stock market is near record highs, gasoline prices are falling, there’s no inflation, interest rates are the lowest in 30 years, U.S. oil imports are declining, U.S. oil production is rapidly increasing, the deficit is rapidly declining, and the wealthy are still making astonishing amounts of money.
America is leading the world once again and respected internationally — in sharp contrast to the Bush years. Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden.
So, Americans vote for the party that got you into the mess that Obama just dug you out of? This defies reason.
When you are done with Obama, could you send him our way?
The letter is on point in a number of ways, but for my money the most salient point is when it mentions the repaired image Obama has given to the United States after Bush killed the country’s credibility over the last decade. It may not be expressed often from within the right-wing echo chamber that dominates the American news media, but Obama is viewed very favorably on the international stage and his presidency has been a soothing touch to a very bad reputation. In one of Dick Cheney’s monthly “criticize the president” national tours, he remarked that he thought America’s image around the world was “increasingly negative.” The Atlantic decided to fact check that idea and found… well… you’ll see:
For more than a decade, the Pew Research Center has been asking people around the world about their opinion of the United States. The upshot: In every region of the globe except the Middle East (where the United States was wildly unpopular under George W. Bush and remains so), America’s favorability is way up since Obama took office. In Spain, approval of the United States is 29 percentage points higher than when Bush left office. In Italy, it’s up 23 points. In Germany and France, it’s 22. With the exception of China, where the numbers have remained flat, the trend is the same in Asia. The U.S. is 19 points more popular in Japan, 24 points more popular in Indonesia, and 28 points more popular in Malaysia.
So given that popularity (especially compared to Republicans, which the world still equates with George W. Bush), it’s easy to see why other countries scratch their heads when America makes bashing Obama the major platform of the Republican Party and Democrats are seen actively trying to avoid him so as to not taint their campaigns. Richard Brunt clearly thinks that we are nuts. And, frankly, it’s hard to disagree with him.