Politics, Change and spandex dresses

The wonderful world of US presidential elections.

The hype of American elections is so gargantuan that it draws us in time after time. It is important. As we have seen in previous years the decision of our Atlantic neighbours has  a huge impact on the direction of world politics. With two main candidates with generally polarised views, the choice of one year’s voters means the difference between, (in the case of George .W. Bush and Al Gore) going to war for questionable reason or bring climate change to the forefront far sooner. You can see why everyone and their granny want a piece of the American election, from popstars to million dollar TV advertising campaigns.

But this year has it been such a choice of opposites? With Romney, Republican candidate, trying to convince enough voters by being a more moderate misogynist and keeping his foreign policy under his metaphorical hat so as not to scare off those who have a mild awareness of political geography. And Obama, the Democrat candidate, who’s most celebrated achievement in office was the very public killing of another (admittedly very nasty) man and who’s weapon of choice is unmanned drones used to kill many people (some of which I have no doubt were innocent) from a nice air conditioned office in Washington. Hmm, very right wing or er right wing. It could be argued that this isn’t much of a choice form the world’s biggest democracy.

But now we know Obama is safely in the White House for another term and everyone has got over the excitement, how can he deliver the promised change? Well perhaps the fact that the first black President earned his second term with little fanfare, is change. Perhaps, now it is no longer a huge and historic step it will make it easier in the future for someone of any ethnicity (or gender would also be nice) to get into the White House. Maybe this is even more significant. It could be argued that now his win can’t simply be put down to being swept up in the moment or even excused by Obama’s renowned charisma. It could be that America have actually taken a huge step forward in terms of prejudice on skin colour and a leap toward equality in general.  Surely its better that colour isn’t counted in a Presidential run at all.

When two different interviewers, from two different programmes, asked two different Hispanic people, in two different states, roughly the same question; they got the same answer, practically word for word. In principle the very right wing values of the Republicans are far better suited to Hispanic voters in terms of family, economy, unemployment… yet 71% of the Hispanic community voted Obama. Why? The Republican views on immigration makes it very clear that they don’t think they should be allowed to stay in the country. Another example of change. To keep any credibility as a party, with the world as it is, the Republicans are going to have to distance themselves from the frankly terrifying views of The Tea Party and adjust their views more realistically to see more of the votes. A prominent Republican said that there wasn’t, “enough angry white guys”, but if 23% unemployment doesn’t give enough its time for a rethink, (What a shame!).

There you go; even though we have a bungled economy, a few dubious MPs and a flaky coalition, I think we should count ourselves lucky we live in the UK. The idea that the most liberal party that have a hope of power in America, the Democrats, are somewhat to the right (not my preferred direction) of David Cameron’s government gives me the heebie-jeebies. The fact that we have an NHS to catch us when we are ill, or decent education for every child, or that climate change and our future is at the forefront of political discussion not skulking in the peripheries. So I think next time an empowered wife (or hopefully husband) makes a stirring speech or Katy Perry performs in a spandex dress baring the campaign slogan, tear your eyes from the screen and be thankful that your on this side of the Atlantic for once.

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