Five election myths

If Barack Obama wins, our standing in the world will improve immediately, just because he’s “different.” There will, I am sure, be a brief moment of shock and surprise when the rest of the world learns that one of its most treasured beliefs — “whatever happens, the Americans are always more racist than we are” — is untrue. There will also be a good deal of rejoicing at the passing of the hated Bush administration. But reality will set in quickly as foreigners discover, along with American voters, that the American president isn’t as powerful as they think, can’t change everything immediately and won’t be able to change some things at all. A President Obama would not be able to end the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, he would not be able to make the stock exchanges rise, and he would not be able to halt the recession right away. And that’s only the short-term disappointment. In the long term, foreigners, along with American voters, will also discover that America is not about to give up on global capitalism and start “redistributing” the nation’s wealth to others. Kenyans in particular will be disappointed.