By Ducky Paredes
Ang Pahayagang Malaya
It is 16 days before the United States of America chooses its president who will preside over the affairs of the USA and (because it is the only superpower left) the world.
When the campaign began almost a year ago, the question that came to everyone’s mind was whether America had finally lost its racial bias and would consider all candidates, regardless of race or color, as possible presidents; or would there be a resurgence of racial discrimination? Would a black candidate prove to be a wedge driven into the racial mix that would effectively divide the races once again? Would there be return to race discrimination and a return, on the side of the discriminated, to black power?
Now, looking back, those fears seem overstated; the world now sees an America that has completely outgrown its ugly years. No matter what happens to Barack Obama and John McCain, it is clear that any person of any race or color who is a natural-born American has as much of a chance as any other American to become president.
One reason that this has happened is that Senator Barrack Obama is a singularly driven man who set out to make his dream of becoming president come true and who planned his campaign coolly and competently.
The other reason is that Senator John McCain ran a campaign that looked as if, in the words of one analyst, it was managed by Curly, Larry and Moe. McCain missed a lot of chances to push his agenda, got lost in the intricacies of the problems facing the United States and basically flubbed his chances. Obama’s campaign hardly erred.
This shows that Obama is actually a better manager and has a better eye for staff that can do the job than does McCain.
Two months ago, they were virtually tied. As each day passed (and the financial crisis sank into the minds and lives of American voters), McCain steadily lost ground so that with two weeks to go, he is in real danger of losing the election, if he has not already done so.
Their election in the US is different from ours. Philippine elections for the presidency are won by the person who takes the most number of votes nationwide. This is called the popular vote. While the popular vote also applies to the US, this is applied on a state-by-state basis. The popular vote determines the 538 who will sit in the Electoral College who will elect the president. While each state, to begin with, has two votes representing the number of their senators in the US Senate, the rest of the 438 come from the number of congressmen in the House. Thus, a state with more congressmen because it is more populous sends more voters to the electoral college. The one with the higher number of electoral votes wins the election. California has the highest number of electoral votes at 55. Texas is second at 34.
Because of the way that the electoral college has been set up, a person who takes the majority in the popular vote nationwide could still lose the election because he didn’t have enough electoral votes, as in 1998 when Al Gore had more total popular votes but George W. Bush had the electoral votes.
One reason Obama will win is that he planned his campaign with the idea of capturing the electoral votes rather than the popular vote. This is the way that he beat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. She captured more of the popular vote but Obama took several states whose electoral votes just added up. This is again how he will beat McCain although Obama could also win the popular vote.
Obama has used the internet more effectively than any other candidate. For instance, when he chose his vice president – Senator Joe Biden – he announced this to his faithful with over a million text messages from Obama to everyone who had worked on his campaign. Think on that.
Contrast this to McCain who admits to little knowledge of the internet and computers.
To see how Obama did it on a state-by-state basis, let us look at the "schlep" campaign. "Schlep" is the Yiddish word meaning to pull, yank or tug.
The fact is that most Jews are better-educated and richer than the average American. In Florida, for instance, where Bush beat Gore by a hair and with all of Florida’s 27 electoral votes, sealed the election, there are an estimated 650,000 mostly retired Jewish voters. For many of them, voting for an African-American is an impossibility. They would just never even think about it. It is not a question of race. Most Jews have simply never known anyone who was African-American.
But, that applies to the older generation; the present generation of younger Jews relate with everyone – even blacks.
The idea behind the Great Schlep was that young, Jewish Democrats would flood Florida and convince their elders that voting for Obama was OK. This was the plan that will probably deliver Florida to the Obama camp.
Obama will win because he planned his path to the winner’s circle well. At this point in the campaign, Obama looks like this is a campaign that is for him to lose. Let us hope he does not. Obama will give America a face that the rest of the world can better relate to. After all, there are more people of color (different hues) in this world than there are whites.
Pinoy internet users can help make their country better known to the world and the Internet by downloading the application called Google Map Maker. This was launched in the country by regional executives of Google two weeks ago in a Makati hotel.
Google, which provides maps of many countries and cities and towns say that "no good base line maps exist" for the Philippines.
Jason Chuck, Google product marketing manager for Asia Pacific, said in a presentation that the application is aimed at solving the lack of up-to-date local maps.
"Google Map Maker is leveraging the knowledge of local experts found in every neighborhood and in every town and city. Since the map data is collected from people who have firsthand knowledge of the area, the information becomes more meaningful and relevant to users," said Chuck.
The new tool is expected to augment the company’s Google Maps and Google Earth, which can provide satellite images of the Philippines but without the street names and useful information that a tourist or investor needs in navigating the country’s largely unmapped topography.
Information generated through Google Map Maker can be integrated in Google Maps once validation has been done.
All you need to do is download the software, then you can tell the world where you used to play tumbang preso, where the girl you loved to watch walked her way to school lived and where the eating is good in your neighborhood.