All entries for Sunday 03 February 2008

February 03, 2008

Thoughts on the US Elections

I’ve made a New Years resolution to try and watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report on a well… daily basis this year (infact it’s only 4 eps of each a week). Mostly because it’s the US presidential elections, and while with every other foriegn election it’s easy to say “I don’t really care, it’s not our country”, with the US elections, as much as we might not want it to be true, they are basically electing the leader of the world.

UK coverage hasn’t been so bad this year (I remember being appalled at the lack of coverage of the US senate elections a few years back) but it’s still good to see the views from over there directly. So far I’ve kept my resolution, so here’s some thoughts on the campaign so far.

Quick primer: The Presidential election is in November, but unlike in the UK, the party leaders are not the candidates. Instead each party (of which there are only two) hold elections called Primaries in which anyone who is a registered member of a party, can vote for who they think should be that party’s candidate. It’s a proportional representation system, so someone getting 34% of the votes in a given state gets 34% of ‘delegates’ available there, which eventually become votes. What this means is if Clinton narrowly beats Obama 36% to 37%, there’ll only be one or two votes in it in the ‘big picture’ (except the Republicans, in some states, run winner-takes-all votes). These primaries happen on different days in different states, before they’re all totted up at the end. Except about half of them all happen this coming Tuesday. If this sounds too complicated, I suggest watching all 7 seasons of The West Wing for a more in depth primer.

First, it’s a good job I’m writing this now, as I was going to write it the start of the week, and claim that although John Edwards was languishing behind Clinton and Obama I thought he’d pick up a lot of votes this Tuesday (aka Super Tuesday) but then he went and dropped out so I’d have looked like an idiot. Still, my logic went as such: this is the Democrats’ election to lose. People are sick of Bush and the Republicans, and with the two term limit and Dick Cheney not running, the Republicans can’t even put a familliar face on the ballot for those who do just want to ‘keep things the same’. Had John Edwards been the nominee, he’d have won, short of the discovery of child porn on his computer or simmilar. He was the safe answer, he’d have got the Democrats the election, no problem. Hillary and Obama are a little dicier. There’s potential for them to run away with a massive victory. I for one would love to see a black person or a woman running the country (although not Hillary, but that’s down to personal problems with some of her policies and views) but in a country that has never elected either before, you can’t say it’s not a risk. There’s a chance that racism or sexism could end up playing to large a part and the Democrats lose the election. And I guess my problem is: there’s no need for it now. This is the Democrats’ game to lose. When Bush ran the first time after Clinton was disgraced was when they needed to pull something like this. When he ran the second time, as an incumbent President at a time of war was when they needed to put someone up there that was different, that stood for something new and unique, that would divide the nation but perhaps lead to a big win. Instead they gave us Al Gore and John-fucking-Kerry. And now, now when everything is going there way, they decide to grow some balls and make a risky play.

I’d love to see Obama in office. I’d love to see the Republicans out of office more. Edwards offered that at zero risk, and I figured that when the media spotlight was off specific states and the campaigning was more spread out, the moderate Democrat base who were more interested in getting the Republicans out than changing the world, would rise up and give Edwards a big push going into the latter primaries.

So now it’s down to Obama and Hillary. I like Obama. He’s funny, or at least has funny writers (shouldn’t they be on strike?) and while he does lack experience, I think George Bush has proven that if you surround yourself with good people, that’s less of an issue.
As for Hillary… well now certain things are making themselves clear. She stood by Bill Clinton through the whole Monica Lewinsky thing, stayed with him, never attacking him publically, in fact supporting him against the allegations. Many wondered why, felt she was being ridiculously weak in doing so and should have stood up for herself, or at least not stood up for him. But now, I’m starting to see that an agreement was clearly made. Because right now, Bill Clinton would appear to be Hillary’s bitch. The man was massively popular, especially in retrospect, post-presidency he’s really shown himself to be a nice guy. And now. Now he’s pissing all over that legacy. Because Hillary can get Bill to do the dirty work. Bill can play the race card and Bill can do the negative campaigning while Hillary can wash her hands of it, even having people suggesting that he’s pushing things a bit too far. It’s a brilliant strategy, it might even work, but either way Bill Clinton isn’t coming out of it looking too good.

With Edwards gone it basically comes down to which of the two candidates will pull in the most of his votes, and if most Edwards supporters had the view I had, that he was the candidate most likely to beat whoever the other side put up, then it’ll come down to who out of Hillary and Obama they feel is the smallest risk. Right now I’m not sure who that is, but personally I’d go with Obama, if for no other reason that a truely democratic system, where anyone can become President, shouldn’t be monopolised by two families for quarter of a decade. Plus Hillary has a problem with video games being evil, and once supported Jack Thompson’s crusade against them. It’s not because I disagree so much with that position that I don’t want her running things, rather it’s because it’s such an idiotic and stupid postion that I question the intellectual capacity of anyone taking it. But that’s a whole other post. As is the Republican race, which frankly is a helluva lot less interesting.

Now, who wants to bet on the number of comments before someone accuses me of being either racist or mysogynist?

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