Thursday, 29 November 2012

Thoughts On The US Election

Given that it was what I went to University to study, I thought I should put some thoughts into the American Presidential election. I suspect this is of interest to about two people, so just humour me on this occasion, okay?

The Result: Not really a surprise to me, as over the course of my lifetime only two incumbent Presidents have failed to secure a second term. In each case they had massive black marks on their résumé, Jimmy Carter with fuel shortages and the ongoing Iran hostage crises, and George Bush senior with the infamous "No new taxes" pledge. Obama avoided anything of that magnitude, and consequently his re-election wasn't a surprise. Personally it had been what I had expected once the death of Osama Bin Laden had been confirmed.

I Want To Vote With The Cool Kids: I haven't been able to monitor American politics the way I once did (having two young children will do that to you), but I've been a bit surprised by all the pro-Obama remarks I see from people I follow on Twitter around the world and by colleagues in the office. It reminds me of how people felt about Bill Clinton, and in case you needed a reminder, he wasn't perfect by any means.

In a corresponding manner, I don't see much substance behind why people like Obama. There certainly seems to be a dose of relief that he isn't George W. Bush, and you can see that he presents himself well and engages with voters in groundbreaking fashions. All of these things do not necessarily make a successful politician though, and regardless of what you think of him over 58 million votes (over 47% of the overall total) went to Mitt Romney (who certainly didn't strike me as an overly-impressive opponent).

Now maybe it is because I've never been one of the cool kids, but when everyone rushes to tell me how good someone is I tend to be a bit sceptical. 58 million people, for whatever reason, don't share that opinion, and on the global horizon I think that tends to get overlooked.

You're Not Helping Guys: One of the most staggering matters which I couldn't help but notice was all the furore about Barack Obama's place of birth. Remembering that a President must be born within American lands (and having remembered pointing this out to someone who once asked if Arnold Schwarznegger would one day be President) I found the ongoing witch-hunt by Obama opponents to be embarrassing. I would have suspected that Obama would never have been allowed to take charge if he was not born on American soil, which to me means that continuing to cover this ground four years after his first election victory appear churlish at best and desperate at worst.

However the worst part of this for me is that it screams out "This is the only thing we can pin on you," or if you prefer, "We have no other problems with you." Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case, so why persist with one seemingly settled matter if you have other important matters that need to be dealt with? Why not ask about more important matters instead of wasting your time, and by extension your credibility, by repeatedly asking someone to confirm where they were born?

The Least Important Matter: At least the Homeland titles don't need to change for another four years, although personally I'm still waiting for someone to put together an alternative version of this with nonsensical quotes from Bush and co. within it.