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Sun, October 24, 2004 Non-Americans dread Bush By Eric Margolis -- Contributing Foreign Editor
WHAT DO a Pathan tribesman in Pakistan, a factory hand in Shanghai, a grape picker in Chile, and a Canadian autoworker have in common?
Their lives are all shaped by decisions made by the White House, the closest thing we have today to world government.
It's unfair the whole world cannot somehow vote in the upcoming U.S., elections since they affect all mankind. Maybe the rest of the world could vote and count as one U.S. state, Internationalia. However, if this happened, the result would be a landslide for John Kerry.
The vision of a re-elected George W. Bush ruling the world does not sit well. Few non-Americans know anything about Kerry, but that hardly matters. He is popular everywhere abroad simply because he looks civilized and is the un-Bush.
My eagle-eyed friend, Countess Pamela de Maigret, brought my attention to an interesting Internet site, BetaVote.com. This site tabulates straw votes for Bush and Kerry from around the world. Though unscientific, and distorted in its U.S. section by Bush unlovers, it provides a good sample of world thinking about the election.
Among 42,721 global respondents, Kerry leads Bush by 88% to 11%. In Brazil, Kerry leads by 91%; by 79% in Italy; 91% in France; 71% in India; 77% in Japan; 11% in Kuwait; 89% in Germany; 81% in Britain; 17% in Israel; 61% in Nigeria.
Only in the African state of Niger does Bush lead, by 71%. Bush and Kerry are tied, oddly, in Libya, North Korea, Christmas Island and Niue, wherever that is.
What deeply alarms many non-Americans is the prospect of a second Bush term dominated by a coalition of evangelical Christians, Christian "Rapturists," American partisans of Israel's PM Ariel Sharon, and rural voters from the Deep South who reject evolution and think French is the native language of Satan.
These groups tend to share a loathing of Europe, the UN, the Pope, Muslims in general, Arabs in particular, intellectuals, anything international, and believe themselves God's chosen people. Some born-again Christians see Bush as a kind of messiah.
There is deep concern abroad that American politics is falling increasingly under the influence of extreme religious groups at a time when secularism is accepted across Europe and non-Muslim Asia.
Many Catholics will vote against Kerry on their bishops' orders. Many American supporters of Greater Israel, who shape U.S. foreign policy these days, believe they are fulfilling God's commands. The 41% of Americans calling themselves born-again Christians are being whipped into a pro-Bush frenzy by many of their preachers. So much for separation of church and state.
America's fastest-growing cult, the Rapturists, believe once Greater Israel is created and all Jews converted to Christianity, they will be instantly transported to heaven while the world will be destroyed and all non-believers slowly burned alive.
Their unofficial bible, the Left Behind series of books, has sold nearly 60 million copies. They are Bush's most ardent supporters.
Such extremist groups would merely be curiosities of America's outback were they not so dominant in Republican circles. A recent survey shows born-agains in general comprising 22% of voters in Pennsylvania, 36% in Missouri, 30% in Iowa, 27% in Ohio -- all key battleground states that will decide the election.
A New York Times survey found big-city voters backed Kerry 69% to only 23% for Bush; and, in small cities, 53% to 40%. But in suburbs, Bush leads 50% to 42%. In rural areas and the south, Bush leads by a whopping 55% to 35%.
More educated Americans back Kerry, while Bush speaks for those who love his folksy ways, mangled English, jingoism and religious pretensions.
However, a president who says he communicates with God regularly and claims to be on a "divine mission" makes the world very uneasy.
Who will the Lord order Bush to "liberate" next? Iran and Syria? Sinful France, with its cigarettes, wine and wild sex? Lefty Canadians with all that water and oil? Or the Chinese, who reject Christian values and work too cheap?
Add to the Bush vote the 20% of Americans who believe Elvis is still alive, and you end up with an unbeatable majority.
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