The world was rooting for President Obama to earn another four years in the White House last week, and as we know that wish was emphatically granted. One global citizen who couldn’t be happier about the outcome is Bono.
"Congratulations are in order not just for turning out in record numbers – and forgetting politics for a minute – but for electing an extraordinary man as president. I think you have to say that whatever your political tradition,” Bono told an audience at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. on Monday night.
Now that the election dust has settled, Bono has been in the nation’s capital these past couple of days to urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle not to cut U.S. funding for global assistance programs when “fiscal cliff” negotiations get underway in earnest. He’s had several meetings to stress that U.S. aid has done a world of good and can’t be eliminated now, and he doesn’t care who he has deal with to get that message across.
"Cuts can cost the lives of the poorest of the poor," he said. "It shouldn't be a hard case to make, but it is right now. In the halls of Congress, the Senate, maybe here in [Georgetown]. But I put it to you we must not let this economic recession become a moral recession. That would become a double cruelty.
"If George Bush were here right now, I'd get down and kiss him on the lips!" Bono told the mostly student audience at the Global Social Enterprise Initiative event at Georgetown. Bush and Bono collaborated together on relief programs during W’s years in the White House, and they maintained a positive relationship despite an undoubted difference of political opinion.
Bono told the attendees that Africa is vital to their futures. "People say China is the future," he said, "but if you ask the Chinese, they're all headed to Africa. Africa's going to be big, and it's going to be young. This is the era of the Afro-nerd!"
One African student asked Bono a pointed question: “What kind of advice do you have for young Africans like myself who have access to a world of knowledge and opportunities and want to be able to take that back, without being condescending?"
Bono was his usual candid self in reply. "We don't quite have the answer. And honestly, I look forward to the day when you will be holding this speech. Because I see the absurdity of Paddy standing at the lectern because Desmond Tutu is busy."
Laughter ensued, and Bono turned serious. "I am called to serve you," he said. "I think we're all called to serve each other in that way, by God. Or by a sense of common decency."