The Economist set up an interactive map (here) where people across the world could vote in the 2008 US Presidential election. Like in the States, this Global Electoral College allocated votes by population, with large countries like China and India getting the most. After 52,000 worldwide votes, the poll has closed: Barack Obama, 97.8%, John McCain, 2.2%. No countries were “strongly” for McCain, with only four “leaning” towards him: Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, and Iraq. You can see the country-by-country breakdown here, and the analysis here.
This reminded me of my biggest question about this election: Why is it even close? Maybe this is indicative of my biases. Improving America’s image in the world is important to me, as an avid traveler. (I cannot count the number of times that people in other countries, upon finding out that I’m American, have responded, “I hate America.” Or, “I don’t hate Americans, but I hate your President.”) About 10 seconds into the Obama-McCain matchup, it was clear to me that Obama’s multilateralism was more globally constructive than McCain’s jingoism. (In The Economist’s poll, both Israel and Arabic countries voted overwhelmingly for Obama.)
Ironically, US polls skewed towards Obama only after domestic matters – i.e., the economy – superseded foreign policy in importance. Maybe American voters care much more about themselves than the rest of the world. I’m still scratching my head as to why the world picks Obama by a landslide, but in the US, it’s still a nail-biter. (This reminds me of the 2004 election; I was in Europe then, and people there were unanimously shocked and appalled.)
Granted, The Economist’s poll is imperfect. The magazine’s readers are not average Americans. (US Economist readers voted 81% Obama, 19% McCain.) They’re likely more educated and more well-informed. But they’re also likely wealthier (who traditionally vote conservative), and The Economist is not an especially liberal publication. Also, perhaps voters in other countries “don’t know what’s best” for the US, though I find that unlikely. In my travels, I’ve found that foreigners often know more than Americans about American history. Things like “racism” and “ignorance” might explain the disparity between The Economist’s and American polls, though it’s not like other countries aren’t racist or full of ignorant voters.
22 Random Acts of Violence
In “Ignorant Americans” on 2006’s Cruel, California grinders Phobia said, “Fuck these atrocities and all the bullshit / Patriotic hymns, Bush, and all his endeavors / 4 more years and the nightmare begins / Ignorant Americans!” Other songs also blamed Americans for their own fate. One-minute grindcore explosions aren’t about dialogue.
Yet 22 Random Acts of Violence (Willowtip, 2008) is perhaps unintentionally true to its title. “Nihilistic Grindcore” proclaims, “Life and means to make noise that’s core / Anarchist ideals, nihilistic grindcore!” But “Anarchist Farce” calls out anarchist punks as ineffective – yet ends with, “But we need to fight, so punks unite!” Phobia can’t be that nihilistic if in “Protest//Solution,” they claim that, “Protest / Can save your lives” and “Without hope you are through.” They mirror the mindset of Americans going into this election: confused, pessimistic, yet occasionally hopeful.
Diversity makes this record richer than grindcore’s typical “blastbeats + f.u.” Tempos vary widely, thanks to Danny Walker. In Intronaut, he’s one of metal’s most colorful, nuanced drummers. Here, he’s grossly over-qualified. He’s like a first-person shooter character armed to the teeth, spraying thrash beats, blastbeats, and d-beats with clips to spare. Dialogue from Slacker, Donnie Darko, and Office Space – all zeitgeist-defining films – only adds to the mayhem.
John Haddad, who’s produced great-sounding records (Abysmal Dawn’s latest, everything by Intronaut before their newest one), and who has intriguing projects upcoming (Dreaming Dead’s debut, Hirax’s next full-length), dials up punishing punchiness. Over the years, Phobia’s grindcore hasn’t changed so much as strengthened. It’s professional, pissed-off, and trigger-happy. There’s hardly a soundtrack more appropriate for this time in American history.