Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Reflections on elections

Thought I'd bung up a few random thoughts about this election thing in the US.

1. It's not really a landslide is it? I mean Obama certainly spanked McCain in terms of electoral college votes, and it's the biggest Dem vote for some time, but the lead in the popular vote is not comparable to say Labour in 1997. Obviously the lack of serious third party must make a difference but still it's not quite the same as what we would consider a landslide.

2. That reminds me that it would be a major mistake, therefore, to write off the GOP. Although there are already signs of the various bits of the Right coalition turning on each other it's not a given that they will be as stooopid as the Tories were initially post-1997. We obviously don't know how the next four years will pan out for the Dems either. We could fool ourselves into thinking there is a seachange, when actually this is a primarily anti-Bush and tentatively pro-Obama vote that could unwind if, say, the economy continues to experience real problems.

3. Sarah Palin. Not as a straightforward as it looks this one I suspect. There wasn't really time for her to develop in the campaign so the meejah coverage quickly shifted from one simplistic narrative to another - from pitbull in lipstick to incompetent loony (maybe those are two sides of the same coin). Obviously by the time of the vote she was alienating as many neutrals as she was energising core Right voters. But next time around those rough edges will have been smoothed. And let's be honest - there was an unpleasant undercurrent to some of the commentary about her. Even on the Beeb election programme last night there was some real schoolboy humour when her name came up. Much as I disagree with ...err... pretty much everything she said in this campaign I found some of the coverage a bit sneery, and that always seems to go down badly in the US.

4. I'm genuinely a bit shocked at the distance between reality and some of the comments of partisan supporters in this election. For example I find it incredible that Biden was asked by a reporter, in all seriousness, if Obama was a Marxist and I have seen plenty of keyboard warriors argue that he actually is in recent weeks (and I'm sure there are people amongst the Obama support who have equally loony views). I accept that we all filter information according to our world view, but to make such patently false claims about a person just because they are on the other 'side' makes me a bit depressed. Where's the truthiness?

5. At the risk of being optimistic it's got to be looking good for the Dems over the long term. Obama has put together a wide coalition of support this time, and the fact that he's sewn up so much of the youth vote must be good news for elections in the future.


snowflake5 said...

I'm not at all surprised that some Republicans think Obama is a Marxist and are spreading scare stories (which they genuinely believe).

It reminds me of 1997, when my then boss shuddered when labour won, and informed me that labour would be cutting interest rates despite strong inflationary threats "because Labour are stupid". The very next day Gordon Brown raised interest rates and then made the BoE independent (and the Bank raised some more to defeat the inflation that had been left unchecked by Ken Clarke as he tried to buy the election).

We've all forgotten how mistrusted we were on the economy (and how many myths and falsehoods were circulating about us). The electorate had taken a gamble on us in 1997, but we were on a one term probation (which is why Blair and Brown were so cautious). If 97 was won for us by Blair, 2001 and 2005 were won by Brown on the economy.

Obama is similarly on probation. And he's inherited a very tough situation. Hope he pulls it off

Bill Quango MP said...

Agree that the landslide comment is very misleading. A good solid win is better.
Palin won't go away either. Get her some experience, some good advisers and she'll be the new Hillary, haunting US politics for decades.
I thought Obama the better candidate a long way back.. very fresh, very confident, but very Blair.
Let us hope he hasn't an evil, embittered treasury secretary, undermining and plotting to remove him and blocking all Obama's plans
If you hear the word "Prudence" call for the secret service guys and disappear him quick.