So, not long ago, the Guardian, a UK paper, decided it wanted to help John Kerry win the election.
It’s just possible that you have heard this once or twice before recently, but the forthcoming American election, on November 2, may be the most important in living memory. People have been saying this about every presidential race for decades – but, as one environmentalist put it recently in a US newspaper interview, precisely the problem with crying wolf is that sometimes there is a wolf. You would be forgiven, though, for feeling increasingly helpless as you hear the “most important election” mantra repeated daily: unless you happen to be a voter in a handful of swing states, there’s little you can do about the final result. If you’re not American, the situation is more acute. Certainly, the actions of the US impact on our lives in overwhelming ways; British political life may now be at least as heavily influenced by White House policy as by the choices of UK voters. And yet, though the US Declaration of Independence speaks of “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind”, you don’t, of course, have a vote. You can’t even donate money to the campaigns: foreign contributions are outlawed. And you’re unlikely to have the chance to do any campaigning on the ground. All you can do is wait and watch: you’re powerless.
Or are you? At G2, that sounded like fighting talk. Where others might see delusions of grandeur, we saw an opportunity for public service – and so, on the following pages, we have assembled a handy set of tools that non-Americans can use to have a real chance of influencing the outcome of the vote. We’ve identified ways to give money to help your preferred candidate, even though direct campaign contributions from foreigners aren’t allowed. There are ideas for making your voice heard in the influential local media outlets where it could really count. And at the core of it is a unique scheme to match individual Guardian readers to individual American voters, giving you the opportunity to write a personal letter, citizen to citizen, explaining why this election matters to you, and which issues you think ought to matter to the US electorate. It may even be a chance to persuade somebody to use their vote at all.
I heard about this from Adventures of an American Girl in Germany, where everyone’s favorite expat has this to say, “This makes me so mad. The aggrogance. Imagine an American newspaper suggesting it’s readers to write letters to Britians about why Tony Blair’s party should be re-elected. Or to Germans suggesting Stoiber would be a better candidate because he’s more friendly to America. Or voting against Chirac in the next French election. Riiighhhtt.”
I don’t think she’s far off the mark for being upset. Some Americans were so upset that they threatened to have US Navy SEALS “descend upon the offices of the Guardian, bag the lot of you, and transport you to Guantanamo Bay, where you can share quarters with some lonely Taliban shepherd boys.”
From Texas comes the opinion, “Real Americans aren’t interested in your pansy-ass, tea-sipping opinions. If you want to save the world, begin with your own worthless corner of it.” Of course, Real Americans live in Texas and vote Bush. One wonders if this ignoramus goes up to native born second-generation immigrants and screams when they tell him that they’re American.
Another response says, “We don’t need weenie-spined Limeys meddling in our presidental election. If it wasn’t for America, you’d all be speaking German. And if America would have had a president, then, of the likes of Kerry, you’d all be goose-stepping around Buckingham Palace. YOU ARE NOT WANTED!! Whether you want to support either party. BUTT OUT!!!” Now, I wonder if he means “likes of Kerry” he means a) Democrat or b) Liberal. This person should certainly take a history class! Franklin D. Roosevelt was both a) Democrat and b) Liberal.
Knoxville, Iowa writes, “Fuck off and die asshole!!!!!” Yes, and to you too, friend!
Someone else ignorant of the fact that the Republican Party is just as socialist writes, “I’ll tell you, you’re a bunch of meddling socialist pricks! Stay the hell out of our country and politics. And another thing, John Kerry is a worthless lying sack of crap so it doesn’t surprise me that a socialist rag like yours would back him. I hope your cynical ploy blows up in your cowardly faces, you bunch of mealy-mouthed morons!”
More hilarity (and bad manners) here.