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Presidential Debate in USA: A Model for The Absent Africa?

In less than two weeks, here in the United States of America, we will be voting for our President. The greatest democracy that the World has known will again make history.

After months of Republican primaries, we had a Summer of campaigning by both the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Then, we watched three debates in which the two candidates squared off. According to most observers, Governor Mitt Romney  shined in the first debate, but  President Obama had an overall win when one looks at all the three debates. President Obama won by pinning down his opponent for shifting his views  and for his inconsistency on various issues like the middle class, auto bailout,  women rights,  tax, Russia, Afganistan and defence spending.
Governor Romney  maintained his appeal to the base by reiterating that the United States needed a stronger economy in order to be strong abroad, hence a person with strong business background. That means him.

The next step is to watch the sprint towards the finishing line and hope for one own’s candidate to win. The consensus is that the race remains close and the winner cannot be predicted with certainty. However, according to the latest polls, President Obama has around 70% chance of  securing  more than 270 delegates needed to win elections.

Africa, what?

That is it for the prognostics! However, the surprise is in what very few in the United States are mentioning. In all the debates, one continent or subcontinent was almost completely ignored: in plans, debates, and campaign speeches.  South Sahara Africa was only mentioned  once.   In the third debate,  President Obama insisted on the strategic importance of South Sahara Africa.

Yes, Africa was mentioned in debates and speeches before:  terrorist attacks in Libya that targeted American citizens including our Ambassador, democracy in Tunisia, Egypt and  rising insecurity  and terrorism in Mali. The September 11th coward  terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which our Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed has rightly occupied the top rank of the issues regarding Africa.

When it came to foreign policy in general and American role in the World in particular, South East Asia, South America and the Middle East  were mentioned in several exchanges.  When it came to Sub Sahara Africa,  only President Obama underlined the fact that Africa is important and, most importantly, that USA will stand on the side of democracy and against dictators.  That was encouraging for Africans. Most Africans AfroAmerica Network talked to wanted to hear more about Africa from the presidential candidates.  Some did not mind, arguing  that Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Europe were also rarely mentioned. But others said that this is comparing apples to oranges. Governor Romney instead chose South America, because, he argued, the same timezone as the US.

It is the economy!

But to be fair, it was too much to ask from the two candidates when Americans are more concerned about the current state of the US economy and world terrorism than about the fate of developing countries and their tyrants. Since President Obama managed to slip Sub Sahara Africa into the debate, it is likely that, if he wins, he will have time to expand the  US interests on that promising part of the World.

What did Africans learn from the debate process.

Africans have watched democracy in action. Only  in a democracy  can the debates we observed between a President and a challenger  happen without fear. Let us hope that Africans and African dictators, tyrants, warlords and opposition leaders will learn from the process. Perhaps, one day, Africa will follow the US model after overcoming the yoke of their tyrants.

©2012 AfroAmerica Network. All Rights Reserved.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Semanzi paulin October 26, 2012, 11:53 am

    In Europe and America, the africans are not important. Today the western Media are reporting every day about Syria and Israel, but no one report about Congo where Millions of People are dying every day. Worse Countries like Britain continue to support financially Kagame, the butcher of the Congolese. And for years we were talking that Mugabe,president of Zimbambwe is the Monster of Africa, not because Europeans like Africans just only because Mugabe has taking back Land, which was stolen by Brits.