The world lost its goodwill toward the USA when Americans voted for George W. Bush the second time around.
I don't endorse the idea that American politics should be dictated by foreign opinions but a reading of the foreign press over the last six years reveals that the first election of President Bush Jr. was largely excused around the world since no one could have known what this new president was going to do.
Moreover, America arguably didn't vote for him anyway in 2000.
However, the second election President Bush was not excused, because by 2004, the modus operandi of the Bush administration was clear. He wanted to 1) conduct wars against countries that did not threaten us (e.g. Iraq), 2) oversee large financial benefits to companies with which those in his administration were close (e.g. Halliburton), 3) establish a legal framework for riding roughshod over the liberties of private individuals who are not suspected of crime (e.g. Patriot Act), and 4) establish a massive federal apparatus to carry out such intrusions on innocent Americans in what is becoming a police state (e.g. domestic wiretapping, TSA etc... )
The more-or-less global delight upon Obama's election in 2008 followed largely from the hope that Americans had realized what a mistake they had made with Bush's second term and were therefore voting against the egregious actions of the then Republican establishment.
When most Americans voted for "Hope" and "Change," the above four objectives were at the top of their list of what they "hoped" would be "changed."
After two years, however, we now see that Obama 1) conducts wars against countries that do not threaten us (e.g. Libya, Yemen etc.), 2) oversees large financial benefits to companies with which those in his administration were close (e.g. Goldman Sachs), 3) supports the legal framework for riding roughshod over the liberties of private individuals who are not suspected of crime (e.g. Patriot Act), and 4) is growing a massive federal apparatus to carry out such intrusions on innocent Americans in what is becoming a police state (e.g. domestic wiretapping, TSA etc.. )
Put another way, when it comes to such things as the killing of innocent people, taking from the common man to support cronies, and the elimination of the basic values that make our lives worth living, we had the hope, but we haven't had the change.
Just as in 2000, Bush hadn't shown his true colors, in 2008, Obama had not either. A vote for either in those years was fair enough. But in 2012, if you vote for the Democratic nominee for president, you better have a moral justification that is SO good that it is a) worth killing innocent people who don't threaten you, b) transferring wealth to the rich and well connected, and c) the complete suspension of your right to privacy and such basic rights as protecting your child from being touched by a government official with the full force of the law behind him as he just follows his orders.
Do I labor the point? Good.
I don't believe that such a justification exists. I'm having difficulty seeing how a Democrat who voted for Obama (whom I supported) for the right reasons in 2008 can in good conscience do so again given that there is another candidate who has been consistent in his opposition to all of these things -- not just in words but in deeds.
If you've read my other pieces, you already know who he is. But if not, you should also know that Ron Paul has voted to let states make their own laws on abortion, gay marriage etc. and to let individuals follow their own social conscience -- even when he disagrees with them (as I disagree with him on some of these issues). In other words, he is consistent in his beliefs in civil liberty.
If you are a Democrat, and you sit tight and vote Democrat again "because you've always been a Democrat" or because you think that some group with which you identity will benefit more from Democrat programs than a Republican one, then that is up to you, and I wish you well. But don't you dare pretend that you are motivated primarily by peace, civil rights or a government that treats people equally.
That Ron Paul, who has been standing up for these principles quietly for half a lifetime, happens to be a member of the Republican party is a lot less important than the principles that we should be voting on. The fact that he is not a party guy should be obvious from his extensive differences in policy from his party and the fact that many think, given his views, he should not run as a Republican at all.
As Dr. Paul often points out, however, we live in a country with a corrupt political party duopoly... and the system is stacked against anyone who would run outside the two party system. So he's doing what he has to do. And so should we as Americans who love peace and freedom. It really isn't complicated.
Follow Robin Koerner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rkoerner