What if we all got to choose the president of America?
For non-Americans it’s a case of watching and hoping that the US makes the ‘right’ decision, whatever that might be
When the Americans go to polling stations on Tuesday they won’t just be electing a new president – they’ll be choosing the most powerful person in the world.
Whoever wins will make decisions that will impact everyone – not just US nationals – the outcome of Tuesday’s election is indeed of global interest and concern.
But for non-Americans it’s a case of watching and hoping that the US makes the “right” decision (whatever that might be), and holding their breath in anticipation of the possibly earth-shaking economic and geo-political decisions being made by a person only one nation gets to select.
Let’s not underestimate the influence that America has on virtually all our lives, the choices we make and the products and cultures we consume. Anyone living in a country where the local currency is pegged to the dollar will see the value of their income go up or down depending on how the US is doing.
America is everywhere – when we turn on our TVs, the likelihood is we’ll watch something made there. Buying a soft drink or going for a meal in a fast food restaurant? They’re all either American or heavily influenced by it.
Foreign policy matters
On foreign policy, it is well documented that Clinton and Trump have very different views on how to handle America’s stance. Trump clearly seems to have relations with Russia, while Clinton seems to take a more traditional American view on Putin.
And with relations at a new low between the two superpowers, the new president’s stance is key to what direction international relations are taken. Who knows, may be Trump’s approach to Putin will be the one that puts a halt to the current Cold War situation spiraling out of control.
No other country seems to hold the same sway as the US does on how other countries behave, whether it’s those closely allied or others who seem on a threshold between peace and conflict.Peter Harrison
Clinton has voiced support for a no-fly-zone being imposed over Syria. But former senior military pilots have argued this could spark a Russian-US conflict if an aggressive Russian military lashed out at US air patrols.
Trump has argued for “safe zone” to be created in Syria, where refugees can ride out the war, but he has not suggested where it would be or how it would be created or enforced.
No other country seems to hold the same sway as the US does on how other countries behave, whether it’s those closely allied or others who seem on a threshold between peace and conflict. And yet given the impact this vast power has on the world - none of us non-Americans have a say.
America is seen by many as being a very inward looking country, with many of its population never leaving its lands. Yet these people get to choose the leader who will make the decisions that impact the world.
As I write this, current polls place Clinton and Trump almost too close to call following further email scandals concerning the Democrat candidate. But in a recent article by the British daily The Independent - an international vote would tell a very different story – placing Clinton firmly in the White House with a landslide victory.
A YouGov poll revealed Thursday that nearly half the population of the Middle East and North Africa would abstain if they were given a vote in the election. That said Clinton was still a clear favorite in this poll with the Arab world.
So theoretically given all these factors – and many more – one might be drawn to ask if there were some kind of wider representation, maybe even global, whether we would be looking at a different situation.
There are still many who believe that if Al Gore had beaten George W Bush in the 2000 election, that the invasion of Iraq would not have happened – who knows how that would have changed the situation we now find ourselves in.
And if the world had its say from the outset, maybe we would be looking at a very different situation altogether – may be Bernie Sanders would have prevailed as the Democratic candidate. I wonder though if given the same choice of Republican candidates if the world would have chosen differently.
But if there were to be a wider ranging poll – how would it be done? In this entirely make believe situation one can only assume social media would play some role.
The question I leave you with, as we wait in this uncertain time, is if we were all given the opportunity to have our say in this process – would the world still be such an unsteady and unpredictable place?
Peter Harrison is a British photojournalist whose career spans three decades, working for print, digital and broadcast media in the UK and the UAE. He's covered a broad spectrum of subjects, from health issues and farming in England, to the refugee crisis in Lebanon and the war in Afghanistan. He is a senior editor with Al Arabiya English and tweets @photopjharrison.