Tuesday, 4 November 2008

US Elections; A brave new world??

. I remember vividly a heated debate I had with a Republican on a citizen journalist on a site some time ago. I confidently predicted that come today the American people would deliver swift justice on the Bush presidency and inflict an embarrassing defeat on the entire Republican Party. I stand by that prediction; on Liberal Democrat Voice I have optimistically predicted an Obama win by 375 to 163 electoral college votes. I confidently predict that the Democrats will sweep the board in the Congressional elections too. Voting has already begun and Barack Obama has cast his ballot. All the indications are that there will be a record voter turnout, something that must have John McCain wincing already.

It indicates their is a mass engagement with this election; that there is a mass swelling of feeling and we all know that this is not in favour of McCain and the Republicans. The operational poll rating is not even that of Obama or McCain; it is of Bush and he is positively loathed now which means McCain will suffer. His jibes against Obama look tired and wasted; themselves belonging to a bygone era just like John Major's 'demon eyes' washed off Tony Blair. Obama's calls for change and a 'fairer society' are bound to chime with a Maine Street still smarting from a bail-out it bitterly resented.

What is true of America is true of the world at large. I have had non-political friends express their support for Obama to me today and people with no interest in politics are always a better bell-weather of a general mood than a thousand polls or politicians. Politics Home reports that a significant minority of the British conservative right is aligned against McCain. So, when we wake up tomorrow morning what will it mean for us all?? It will mean that a new layer of people will be drawn into politics in this country though I would not want to overstate this but it seems to me a distinct possibility.

It would be nice if we could take this opportunity before Obama faces the challenges he will and some of the shine wears off; therefore I rather radically propose our party crafts itself a suitable message and goes on something of a recruitment drive. Maybe our new President should make that their first priority. In terms of wider politics the effects will be harder to discern; it will represent the victory of a leftist sentiment but sentiments are notoriously vaporous and direction determined by how they are made concrete. Given that Obama has made the provision of healthcare (along with 'fairer society' rhetoric) a central plank of his campaign it will represent a willingness on the part of the American electorate to accept more centrally directed welfareism.

Remember what happened after 1997?? Social democratic governments swept the board across Europe. Expect the ripples from this wave to be bigger. However, in the last analysis what will determine what it all means will be how Obama performs but we wont know the answer to that until much after tomorrow morning....

25 comments:

Julian H said...

I remember vividly a heated debate I had with a Tory on a site some time ago. I confidently predicted that come today the British people would deliver swift justice on the Major government and inflict an embarrassing defeat on the entire Conservative Party. I stand by that prediction; on Liberal Democrat Voice I have optimistically predicted a Blair win by 375 to 163 Westminster seats. I confidently predict that New Labour will sweep the board in the next local elections too. Voting has already begun and Tony Blair has cast his ballot. All the indications are that there will be a record voter turnout, something that must have John Major wincing already.

It indicates their [sic] is a mass engagement with this election; that there is a mass swelling of feeling and we all know that this is not in favour of Major and the Tories. The operational poll rating is not even that of Tony Blair; it is of Major and he is positively loathed now which means the Tories will suffer. Their jibes against Tony Blair look tired and wasted; themselves belonging to a bygone era. Tony Blair's calls for change and a 'fairer society' are bound to chime.

What is true of the UK is true of the world at large. I have had non-political friends express their support for Tony Blair to me today and people with no interest in politics are always a better bell-weather of a general mood than a thousand polls or politicians. Politics Home reports that a significant minority of the British conservative right is aligned against Major. So, when we wake up tomorrow morning what will it mean for us all?? It will mean that a new layer of people will be drawn into politics in this country though I would not want to overstate this but it seems to me a distinct possibility.

It would be nice if we could take this opportunity before Tony Blair faces the challenges he will and some of the shine wears off; therefore I rather radically propose our party crafts itself a suitable message and goes on something of a recruitment drive. Maybe our new President should make that their first priority, or maybe Paddy should have lots of “secret” meetings at Number 10. In terms of wider politics the effects will be harder to discern; it will represent the victory of a leftist sentiment but sentiments are notoriously vaporous and direction determined by how they are made concrete. Given that Tony Blair has made the provision of healthcare and education (along with 'fairer society' rhetoric) a central plank of his campaign it will represent a willingness on the part of the British electorate to accept more centrally directed welfareism.

In the last analysis what will determine what it all means will be how Tony Blair performs but we wont know the answer to that until much after tomorrow morning....

Darrell G said...

Pretty much Julian lol....there are differences in the scale of what Obama will have to deal with which make a crisis of expectations more likely but in terms of the mass sentiment that will carry him to power, the moment we are at now I see an awful lot of similarity...

Julian H said...

“there are differences in the scale of what Obama will have to deal with”

Very true; the UK was actually doing (relatively) well in ’97, and Jonnie hadn’t committed such damaging legacies as launching wars with every other psychopath in the Middle East.

asquith said...

Obama is not so much Blair II as Bill Clinton II.

Darrell G said...

Julian H,

Very true.

Asquith,

Kinda but I was comparing the mood of the electorate more than the man....

asquith said...

Well, Obama isn't likely to unleash anything like Iraq, ID cards, 42 days & what have you. There might be attrition of the more unrealistic optimists, but the bulk will stay much solider than New Labour.

If he wins, that is! :o

Julian H said...

Will he reverse the assaults on civil liberties of recent years then?

Darrell G said...

Asquith,

I think there will be attrition over Iraq especially because movements like Move On pretty much want troops out pretty much the day after tomorrow....when it seems quite clear to me that Obama intends to stay until 2010 maybe even 11...also, Pakistan will be an issue because Obama has pretty much indicated the status quo will continue there....

I think what you will see is that the great strength of his campaign will become his weakness because his supporting movements and their energy is so patchy...of course none of this will happen until the euphoria dies down; the span of which will be linked to the size of his victory...

asquith said...

"Will he reverse the assaults on civil liberties of recent years then?"

With any luck, yes. At any rate, he won't be as wanton as Bush, & maybe that's all you can hope for.

I am not by any means pinning my hopes to Obama, but I would be voting against McCain/Palin.

In all honesty, given the "culture" that prevails in America, you can never hope for much. But we're hardly ones to talk anyway!

Charlotte Gore said...

Out of curiosity, have you read 'Brave New World' by Albus Huxley?

Darrell G said...

Charlotte,

No I havent why?? Currently im reading the Dice Man :)

Charlotte Gore said...

You really should. 'Brave New World' is nearly always used in an ironic way as a result of this book.

Darrell G said...

Charlotte,

Lol I take it you wont be drinking to the impending Democratic landslide tonight then??

Charlotte Gore said...

No, I don't really care who wins, but I'm curious about how it plays out, and I want to absorb the analysis.

Darrell G said...

Charlotte,

I do. Despite the limitations and the problems that I feel will unfold for Obama I think his victory will definatly represent progress. If you were a Democrat activist in 2000 I have no doubt a complete landslide will also feel somewhat justified considering the shenangians of the Republicans in that election.

The Democrats deserve their chance to govern and to be fair every indicator of world opinion suggests that alot of people are hankering for a Democratic presidency.

Charlotte Gore said...

At the end of the day, it's up to the Americans to decide.

You are, remember, supporting a man who is significantly more authoritarian than even Labour or the Conservatives here, and more economically right wing too.

I worry about people pinning their hopes on a man who intends to increase Corporation Tax (when the US already had the second highest Corp. Tax in the world) during a recession.

Julian H said...

This will be more than a fair chance to have their say - the Dems are going to hold the Presidency, Congress and the Senate.

Naturally, the GOP deserve a kicking; but I'm far from convinced that it's healthy for the USA.

Charlotte Gore said...

But yes, the GOP are utterly disgraced. They are beyond repellent and have relied far too much on spin and fearmongering.

I just think that it would have been better if Bush had been beaten, rather than smash the GOP candidate that represents a different direction for them.

Darrell G said...

Charlotte,

Since when do you expect me to shed tears about an increase in corporation tax??

You have no justification for saying Obama is a social authoritarian, indeed the hope is as Julian H expressed it that some of the viscious attacks on civil liberties will be reversed though he isnt said much to say he is that way inclined...

Charlotte Gore said...

What about this?

Julian H said...

Well it was more a question than a hope, although naturally it's a hope too. Yuh.

Oh dear, don't get me started on Bob fucking Barr.

Julian H said...

And while we're on the subject, I'm sure you all recall this most wonderfully titled blog post:

http://orangebyname.blogspot.com/2008/02/i-dont-wanna-vote-for-your-president-i.html

Darrell G said...

Charlotte,

What about it??? It's a chart...have I or have I not talked about limitations, criticisms and a crisis of expectations on these very pages...??

Hannah said...

I am 22 and I'd like to capture my thoughts before America either elects a president who its first 26 presidents could have legally owned, or brazenly subverts the very ideals it was founded upon by manipulating numbers in a final embarrassingly overt goosestep towards corporate totalitarianism.

I am nervous. And not night-before-the-swim-test nervous or even night-you-lose-your-virginity nervous, it's a low rumbling primal panic which I can only liken to Star Wars panic. Disney panic. The edge-of-your-seat-terror that makes you wonder if Skywalker's doomed after he refuses to join Darth Vader and drops down into the abyss, if the wicked octopus or grand vizier or steroid-pumping-village-misogynist is going to wed/kill/skin the dashing prince and then evil people in dark funny costumes are going to take over the world... if it wasn't a movie of course.

And tonight it's not. It's not a movie and yet I feel like Obama might as well be wearing an American flag cape while a decaying McCain, in a high-tech robotic spider wheelchair wearing an eyepatch and stroking an evil cat, gives orders to a sexy scheming Palin who marches back and forth through their sub-terranian campaign lair in four inch thigh-highs and full-body black leather catsuit bossing around the evangelical ants with a loooooong whip... umm... is this just me?

Anyway, the point is that things feel weird folks. I have friends who have peed in waterbottles to keep from interrupting a Halo-playing marathon who got off their asses/couches to volunteer for the Obama campaign not once, but many times. Friends so cheap their body content is at least 1/3 Ramen Noodle who donated a good deal of their hard-earned cash to the campaign. People have registered to vote in record numbers, and yet, something just doesn't feel right. I think we should stop congratulating ourselves for just voting. To vote is a privilege which people have died for, and I think there's a whole lot more to be done for the country than to simply help win an election every 4 years.

Hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of man-hours spent on both sides by good-intentioned people who want to make a difference in an historic election, so many resources and voices and energies devoted to a single day. After tomorrow, half of that is going to have been a waste. And I can't help but wonder what could have happened if all that muscle had been put towards something else, and what will happen to its momentum after the election has come and gone. Shouldn't we be donating our money to good causes whenever we can? Helping people who don't have? Dedicating some of our time to contribute to making the country which provides for us a better place? Of course a power shift is a hugely significant step on the path to great reform, but worrying about this election has been a wakeup call for me:

Even if Obama wins, we have not "won." This isn't a movie and we can't toss every greedy lobbyist oil fatcat bigot down a reactor shaft. I think if we dedicate ourselves to the ongoing welfare of the country as much as we have to the outcome of this election, we'll have a much better shot at coming closer to the overwhelming good the liberals hope Obama will usher in, but which no mere mortal could fully realize alone.

Which brings me to the other side. I've heard a lot of people claim that if McCain wins, they're leaving. I heard the same thing about Bush's reelection, and his unelection before that, and nobody seems to be leaving. And that's fine. Because as much as I complain about certain political happenings, atrocities, etc., I really do like it here and I suspect most other people do too. We have New York and Hollywood, purple mountain's majesty and sea to shining sea, we created jazz and country music and baseball and cars and lightbulbs and computers and that movie with hundreds of animated singing Chihuahuas! I mean who among the shivering Plymouth pilgrims ever imagined ordering hundreds of animated singing chihuahuas onto a magical box from an invisible information superweb?

The point being, if things don't turn out the way I want tomorrow, I feel compelled, as a college-graduated adultish-type-person, to take a stand. And if I'm going to leave I'm going to leave. But if I'm going to stay I'm not going to sit around whining like I have for the past 8 years. It's like when I don't clean my room because it's dirty and then I blame the dirt. So in my very indecisive way, before you and your screen, I'm declaring my intention to make some kind of stand in the event of -(Ican'tevensayit)-, and encouraging you to consider making one too...

Jump the ship or grab a bucket?
-Sigh-
Wasn't everything so much easier back when the worst possible affront to your values was a PB&J sandwich cut diagonally with crust?

Anyways, I guess what I'm saying is that if we're going to stay on board, we should probably be generous with our time and resources when times are tough even more than when the hero saves the day. Because what if he doesn't? And what if he can't? If we're serious about real change, election day should only be the beginning of "Yes we can," not the end.


Best,
Hannah Friedman
www.writinghannah.blogspot.com

Darrell G said...

Hannah,

In short, I agree :) but I also think we should enjoy tonight for what it is....