Thursday, 30 October 2008

The World Will Not Change Overnight

With the US presidential election seemingly all over bar the shouting (and perhaps the Bradley Effect), the whole of this side of the Atlantic seems to be convinced that the world will be a better, more cuddly place by about 10am next Wednesday. The sad news for those desperate to be rid of Bush is of course that he is in office till January. The USA has never adopted the approach of British politics where a losing prime minister's stuff is being packed up by the removal men even as they make their concession speech.

I have to say that I think the nation suffers a little for this anticlimax. A new president, elected on a surge of hope, whether it be Democats hoping for less bombast from Obama, or Republicans desperate to distance themselves from W's brand of big government, bedroom policing conservatism, is left with nothing to do but sit and wait for 2 months. Meanwhile W remains president in name only. What foreign government wants to deal with a man who has no real power to make long term arrangements.

And a word to all those Americans who moan when the rest of the world takes an interest , or even join the campaigning in the race. You guys coined the phrase "leader of the free world" and you are right. Where America leads the rest of us have little choice but to follow. We aren't powerful enough to lead and most US policy doesn't allo for getting out of the way. So by all means ignore our opinions, but don't criticise us for holding or expressing them.

As for the result of the election, I will be fairly happy either way. Obama will hopefully be a break, for at least 2 years until the next election cycle starts, from the kind of conservatism that is worse than socialism, that intrudes into the personal, social and moral with overbearing legislation. McCain meanwhile is the only person in the entire race, including both sets of primaries, to have categorically said that torture is always wrong. Hint for the others, Torture is un-American, that's why your constitution bans it.

So all I can say to Americans is go to the ballot and make a choice, there are actually two good candidates. But please try to choose for some logical reason, not age or looks or colour, not the stupid and vindictively made claim that Obama is a muslim, not the record of a past president. Try to do what most of us, wherever we vote, forget to do in an election, vote for somebody, not against them.