Tuesday, 2 November 2010

God Bless America

I so love the mid terms. I love American politics. Obviously this is as a spectator sport, and at a distance, but the way America chooses and runs its government is utterly fascinating. No, make that terrifying.
British elections are just so, well, British, by comparison. In Britain we get into a flap if a polling centre is run badly. That's right: we get into a bit of a flap. In America all hell would break loose. Someone would get a gun. Even our scandals are kind of ordinary. Middle aged couples fiddling their mortgage payments. In America, the pork barrel is so much deeper. The stakes, so much higher.
I'm not qualified to cast judgement on the Tea Party, or on the Democrats' torpor. Though you have to wonder about the latter: did Obama catch Gordon Brownitis? (That said, I thought the John Stewart appearance was pretty good. Positive. Even with the "Yes We Can.... But" clanger. Well doh, Barack. American voters don't do sophisticated arguments...)
Certainly not going by the campaign ads they've been running. Half truths, spin doctoring, muck raking. There's a great run down of some of the best examples here.
My suspicion is that the result tomorrow will not be as bad for the Democrats as was once feared. I think there is a bit of negative spin going on: the demos know that if they make it sound really really bad and then all they get is really bad, well then they've rallied. They can focus on the positive message.
And there is a good indication that some of the real fruitcakes of the election - the Witch Lady, Dan Quayle's Son - will be gone in a puff of, er, tea.
And then the real game starts. America needs to rebuild its economy. The cover article in Time magazine last week really nailed it. It needs to address some real fundamentals. It needs to tighten its belt and get working. (As does the UK, by the way). But perhaps there are too many problems for "the ordinary voter" to get their head round right now. Right now that is. The time might yet come.
For the moment the question is: "What will the new Republican led congress let the President do for the next two years?" If the result goes the way of the polls, Obama is in for the scrap of his life. Here's hoping he's up for it. Here's hope that Audacity he went on about comes back. And not just for America's sake but for the whole world economy.

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