Are we there yet? After months of incessant campaigning the two-year-long road trip known as the US presidential election is nearly over. Finally. The day for US voters to decide between Messrs. McCain and Obama is upon us. For the undecided among us, constant media scrutiny of the candidates and their running mates has left few stones to look under. But here's one issue that hasn't been discussed as much as others – travel.
Sure, with the gloomy global economic forecast, continued trouble in the Middle East, a looming energy crisis and an environment that humanity seems bent on destroying, there are more pressing issues to ponder, and different lenses through which to view the candidates' merits. Yet, perhaps an analysis of the candidates' travel experience can give us a particular insight into their minds and how they view the world.
After all, travel enlightens, broadens horizons, aids in the understanding of other cultures, and places opinions into new perspectives. Or, as a far better scribe than myself once penned “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Well said, Mister Twain. A statement that resonates even further when applied to the possible chief executives of a nation as powerful as the United States.
Where people are from, and where they have been says much about who they are at present and how they may develop. With said wisdom in mind, Been-Seen looks into the Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin tickets respective travel experience for the sake of a better informed electorate. All of us.
John Sidney McCain III
Born: Coco Solo Naval Air Station, Panama Canal Zone, Panama
Ethnicity: Scots-Irish, Anglo-Irish and English American
Family Heritage: Southern United States (Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas) and military.
Notable International Experience: Six year imprisonment (1967-1973) as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.
Analysis: The McCain family's military background had the family moving around quite a bit during John's early years. As a result John attended several high schools, which may have had some part in the development of his infamous “maverick” ie independent behavior. As a politician McCain has traveled extensively throughout the world, most notably to Iraq and Latin America.
Barack Hussein Obama II
Born: Honolulu, Hawaii
Ethnicity: Black Kenyan (Luo), White American (Cherokee, Irish and English) and Indonesian.
Family Heritage: African, Indonesian, Kenyan and American.
Notable Ports of Call: Obama grew up between Honolulu and Jakarta (Indonesia), and has also lived as an adult in Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Bali (Indonesia).
Analysis: Obama's family is remarkable in its diversity, and extends from the United States to Africa, Asia and Europe. This experience gives Obama a worldly appearance that is a part of his overall appeal. This multicultural worldliness also gives him a perceived advantage in addressing pertinent domestic and international issues. Finally, Obama's professed willingness to ease travel restrictions to Cuba is a welcome change to a decades-old travesty of US foreign policy.
Sarah Louise Heath Palin
Born: Sandpoint, Idaho
Ethnicity: English, German and Irish American
Family Heritage: Northwestern United States (Idaho and Alaska)
Notable Ports of Call: Wasilla and Anchorage (Alaska), Honolulu and Couer d'Alene (Idaho).
Analysis: Palin's lack of international and domestic experience stands out in comparison to the other candidates. Her self-proclaimed status as a small town hockey mom appeals to middle America while disturbing residents of more sophisticated, cosmopolitan US cities, her infamous citing of Russia's proximity to her home state of Alaska notwithstanding.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr
Born: Scranton, Pennsylvania
Ethnicity: Irish American
Family Heritage: Northeastern United States
Notable International Experience: Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Analysis: While Biden's upbringing was not the globetrotting adventures that McCain's or Obama's were, his decades of public service and standing as Chairman on the Foreign Relations Committee has allowed him to travel the world extensively and to become a respected national authority on international affairs.
Alvaro Eduardo Rojas