Happy Super Tuesday, Americans. In Israel/Palestine it's just an ordinary day but, as in every other corner of the world, many are watching the long and creaky old election process with bated breath. We know that the next president won't bring salvation or even undo much of the damage of the incumbent. All the candidates take care to signal to Israel that Nothing Will Change with regard to America's historic alliance, and also make sure not to speak of embarrassments like the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, lest a suicide belt goes off on the Israeli side (as happened yesterday), and they will be forced to apologize for ever mentioning Palestinian suffering.
Here in Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam our American intern is ardently rooting for the first black president. Just like so many hopeful young people, she is convinced that something will definitely move if he is elected. While some of us would like to see Hillary come in, if only in order to say she was here and we shook hands with her.
Being over 50 tends to have a dampening effect on expectations while heightening the perception of danger, but I think the question today is not whether America will change, but whether it will manage to change quickly enough to deal with the currents that are anyway affecting it. Global warming, economic woes, declining influence and challenges to U.S. hegemony are some of the issues that the next president is going to have to confront, with bravery, wisdom and determination.
In the face of America's changed and changing position in the world, the temptation before the U.S. president will be to act in a reactionary way, and stubbornly resist the tide. However, the key to success, and maybe the country's last chance to regain credibility and quell the world's growing impatience, will be to assume a responsible position among other nations. That means that America will need to use its still enormous resources and influence wisely, to treat the nations of the world as partners rather than as vassals, to implement policies that encourage development among the world's poorest countries, and to address the economic hardships affecting millions at home.