Election 2008 The World is Watching

Editor's Note

The Vote Heard Around The World

BY FRONTLINE/World EditorsAugust 25, 2008

More than ever before, the votes Americans cast this election day will ripple out to the farthest reaches of the planet. For better or for worse, there will be no place unaffected by our choice.

Against this backdrop of growing global interdependence, FRONTLINE/World today initiates a 10-week election run of its own, intended to give viewers a sense of what the U.S. campaign looks and feels like to at least a sampling of the nearly seven billion people around the world who have no say in the election but nevertheless have to live with its consequences.

With the eyes of the world upon the U.S., a network of FRONTLINE/World contributors are out there, watching the watchers, and filing both print and video on what they see. We'll roll out their reports over the coming weeks, with new reports nearly every day.

What you'll get will be a smorgasbord of observations, images, and commentary gathered up from individuals who we think have something interesting, thoughtful, and insightful to say about how the American election is playing in Pretoria or Damascus, and even inside immigrant communities in the U.S. -- what we call the view from "abroad at home." We'll range widely around the world, but always with a single intention -- to show or tell you something you aren't likely to find elsewhere.

For example, here's what a handful of bright, articulate young students at American University in Beirut had to say about the election to our reporter, Kate Seelye (who, by the way, will be filing a longer dispatch in a couple of weeks). And here's what Nadene Ghouri picked up at the offices of an Afghan newsroom in Kabul.

We'd also like to hear your thoughts about this election and what issues are important to you. We're going to be posting regular questions on the site, which we hope will stimulate a lively debate.

To kick off the discussion, our first question is ...


You can post your comments below.

--The editors

P.S. Look to us also for links to other sources that we've come across and are pleased to recommend, like this excellent blog from the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

share your reactions

Brian Mitchell - Akron, OH
My first reaction to this was that I found the question itself to be patronizing. What kind of question is that? Of COURSE we should care. It seems so OBVIOUS that the answer is YES that the fact that we even have to ask is disappointing. Then there is a reality check in looking at our current administration, and I realize that it truly is an important question to raise. Thanks for starting the discussion.

Gisela Yates - Tampa, Florida
As citizens of the world, we should aim to unite in Peace and Harmony. On one hand we have a presidential candidate who is fanatical about resolving our issues with war versus the candidate that wishes to have a dialogue with the heads of state of other countries. The hope of finding a middle ground is why I care and I think that is why the rest of the world is watching.

Kalsoom Lakhani - Washington, DC
Definitely - as a blogger who is from and writes about Pakistan (www.changinguppakistan.com) on a daily basis, the gradual shift of U.S. attention away from Iraq and towards Afghanistan and especially Pakistan is significant. The next elected U.S. president will impact foreign policy towards Pakistan - an issue that has generated enormous debate among people in the country.
Moreover, anti-U.S. sentiment has been rising throughout the international community. Such perceptions can in turn impact American national security. The new U.S. president, therefore, has the opportunity to present a new American face to the rest of the world.

Cary, NC
I am saddened to see so few posts here. I frequent a lot of other sites which invite comments and the range of views is vast--and scary. I wish some of the scary ones would come here...but that's our problem, isn't it? We really should care--a LOT--in this modern, interconnected, "post racial" world. But many of us still and willfully do NOT care.I am very frightened of what will happen if those who don't care end up choosing the next president.

Seth C - New York, NY
I found this article in relation to a project we launched October 20, called The World For.
We are running a real-time site where the world can vote for the next US president along with perspectives on issues we share around the world. In case your readers would like to cast a vote, here's the URL:http://www.theworldfor.com

Tom D - Indianapolis, IN
The world is basing their opinion on foreign policy and excluding the other 100 positions that we use to base our votes.I don't care who they think we should elect anymore than I care who they elect. It's their country - their business.

Richfield, Minnesota
I think Americans should definitely care about how they are perceived by the international community. Although many of the comments I've read on other sites (blogs, news, etc) are somewhat alarming in the way they showed how little many Americans care about America's image as well as impact on the lives of those outside of the US.
We're all interconnected. Whether we like or not, any major action taken by America is going to impact everyone else, even in the smallest villages.

Landry Boggess - Parkersburg, WV
Of course we should. America invests in other countries just like other countries invest in us. Should it matter that our future business partners or current allies would accept a certain candidate over another. It's not just good business practice it strengthens old ties and creates new ones. I would hope that other countries have as much input on our politics as we do. Besides there are Americans all over the world and they share the love of this country as much as we do. I like our politics to be global so maybe America will stop offending so many countries.

Jed Taylor - Austin, Texas, USA
I believe that most Americans are empathetic to others' views of our country. No matter who wins in November, the Bush administration will be over,and at least we can all rejoice in that.

Jean Nicksick - Charleston, WV
As a sophomore in college, I will be experiencing voting in a presidential election for the first time, and I am so glad to have been asked this question. There is no question, however, that we should care about more than world wide perspectives on the upcoming election. American citizens need to step outside their nationalized thought and expand their global awareness. Thanks again for giving this issue some deserved attention.

Jean Nicksick - Charleston, WV
Yes, we should care. The impact of this election will be felt by people world wide. American voters need not disregard the global significance the next U.S. president will hold.

Alexander Barth - Oslo, Norway
Yes, they should. :-)
(Could probably add more here, but I did not want to start a discussion on another subject closely related to 'people taking an interest'). Good luck to the USA in the upcoming election, and good luck to Earth.

keith shepherd - Jacksonville, FL
Absolutely! that's why we have become so loathed around the world, not only for our policies but the fact that we are really bad listeners. We don't need to go soft, we just need to lead by example and take on the role of true, reasoned diplomacy -- something the US used to be respected for. The Arab world we need to listen to the most.

Sandra Wright - Memphis, TN
You bet we should care. We need a President who has a more world-centric perspective.