Sunday, June 1, 2008

No globalization without representation?

I wonder when that phrase (or some version of it) might become popularized as a universal battlecry among foreign peoples relegated to, or by their own volitions (it matters not) living in the lands of their births yet intimately impacted by the decisions of the President of the United States ... and of our Congress, and our Judiciary, and of the very people who inhabit this continent; the new universalist globalist battlecry to extend to all the peoples of the world the liberal principle of universal suffrage in American elections?

VA has an entry up this morning in which she cites one Mr. Simon Jenkins from his article of May 9, 2008 published in the U.K. Times. Mr. Jenkins writes:

The globalised president is a different matter. This leader must represent America’s values - and consequent actions - everywhere that is touched by American policy. His or her decisions benefit or afflict millions of people, rich and poor, in dozens of countries on every continent. Yet they have no vote.

Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians, Israelis, Pakistanis, Colombians, Brazilians, Russians, Chinese have no means of saying yes or no to decisions taken in Washington that may intimately affect their families, their security, their jobs and prospects. Nobody accounts to them or invites them to any caucus. Few of them enjoy democratic privileges even in their own countries. Yet the next president of the United States can mean life or death.

Commenter Alex seems to have been on the same page as me when he wrote:

There's plenty of glib media commentary on the responsibilities of the 'global presidency'. But while journalists cater to the insatiable public appetite for news of presidential follies (and reluctant admissions of accomplishments), almost nothing is heard from the academics who might be expected to provide some scholarly analysis of "decisions that benefit or afflict millions of people, rich and poor, in dozens of countries on every continent. Yet they have no vote".(emphasis mine)

Yet they have no vote! Shout it from the rooftops! What could possibly be more unjust, more unfair, and yes more immoral than to have people who are potentially afflicted and murdered, whose very lives, liberties and fortunes are subject to the whims of a president of the United States who have no voice in the installment of that president?

This whole issue could be argued from many different perspectives, I suppose. One position would say that there is at least some truth to what Mr. Jenkins is saying; that globalization has indeed intimately connected the decisions of the President of the United States with the diverse peoples of the world, and that therefore the peoples of the world should have some voice in the election of the president. The logical end of this would of course be, as I said, involvement of foreigners in the entire American political process. Did not our founders say that "...governments ... derive(ing) their just powers from the consent of the governed?" If the policies of a president of the United States affect the lives of average Pakistanis, then these Pakistanis are, by definition, "the governed," are they not? The government of the United States can have no "just powers" then, aside from the direct involvement of the Pakistani people, whose lives are intimately affected by U.S. policy, in the American political process.

Months back John Savage wrote in a comment to one of my posts:

I've decided that wherever they differ from us moderns, our Founding Fathers deserve the presumption of being correct. Whether it's on Islam, the role of government, interpretation of Scripture, race, or whatever else, we're the children looking up to our great teachers. Where opinions have changed, the burden of proof lies on those who came later. Our situation is parallel to that of the people who painstakingly rediscovered ancient knowledge after the Dark Ages, is it not?

To keep with the spirit of John's outstanding comment, what we must not do, as I've said or implied innumerable times in the past, is to cherry pick from their writings statements they made which would seem at first glance to support our particular view of the world and of a given topic. As the adage goes "a text out of context is a pretext." This is the reason I cited above the quote from the Declaration of Independence. Let us not forget that it is a declaration of American Independence; let us not neglect to attend to the preamble which declares that during the course of human events it sometimes become necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another. In other words we should always read a particular sentence or phrase in context of the whole piece of work, and that whole piece of work in context of the whole American movement for independent nationhood, in the case of the Declaration of Independence. And as I've said many times as well "WE [heavy on the WE] hold these truths to be self evident", and etc. WE can't and shouldn't speak for anyone else as we seem inclined to do.

But in this case of a so-called 'global president', and the inherent right of all people affected by the presidency, both natural results of 'globalism', it seems to me, we would all be very well served to look to the example and wisdom of our founding fathers, as John Savage says, and in this particular case to Washington's Farewell Speech.