Monday, 3 November 2008

America, approaching it's 97 moment

. America is approaching a moment which in some ways bears alot of similarity to the moment Britain was at in 1997; that is an unpopular conservative government is about to be shown the door and then some. It is no longer a question of whether Obama will win to my mind; it is a question merely of the margin of victory. In the highly unlikely event he does fail to win the election will be equally as historic because it will very badly damage the Democrats to a point beyond belief; put simply, if they can't win now (and win big) then when can they?

A desire for change was always most likely to find it's expression in support for Obama and the Democrats given the incumbent is a Republican. Nobody should be surprised that dissatisfaction with a government regarded as a rightist/conservative one should find positive expression in the rise of support for leftist sentiment. Given McCain's role in supporting the bail-out it has been truly laughable to see him deride Obama as a 'socialist'. Obama will have the mandate and ability (through Democratic control of Congress) to enact the change that people want however, this will of course bring challenges of it's own.

However, a crisis of expectations (for there surely will be one) is most likely to take hold in the Democratic party and Obama's rather more nebulous supporting movements before infecting the wider electorate. As a rule people who tramp the streets and lick envelopes etc etc tend to expect delivery alot quicker than people whose sum total support is to cast a vote. Obama ran a noticeably more radical campaign in the primaries because the audience he was addressing was narrower than the one he is now, this doesn't make him a 'populist' it makes him a sensible politician in some regards. However, the problem with that approach is while it looks sensible and rational it can often come back to haunt you; as Tony Blair found out. Obama is facing the additional problem that he is riding into the economic storm. Come 2012 Obama may well find the energy of his supporting movements dissipated and to win a second term he will be faced with a whole new ball game.

What will be the implications for British politics?? Quite substantial I think purely because this election has captured the imagination of people worldwide. If the Tories weren't all at sea then, given the right angling of their message, it could have benefited them. However, now I think this is unlikely. Equally Labour as the incumbent party is unlikely to benefit from an 'Obama bounce'. This does leave us with something of an opportunity to engage people's imaginations with our agenda.

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