We await today the result of the election with some interest and excitement! For a country which prides itself as being the world’s greatest democracy, it surprised me to discover that America has a surprisingly low turnout for Presidential elections. The average for the last six presidential elections hovers barely over 52%. It is likely to be much higher this month. As someone in conversation with me “Dragging your arse to the polling station is a very small price to pay for keeping a dumb-arse out of the White House!”
My point is that there is not a renewed interest in democracy but of the unintended consequences of the Bush presidency. No one in America wants to repeat the trauma of the Florida recount of 2000, when the outcome of the election was ultimately left to the judges of the Supreme Court.
Let me go further, in Britain the General Election campaign lasts for a month – culminates of a day of voting, a night of counting and a clear result. It costs around £40 million all up. Every prospective Member of Parliament is allowed to spend £7,000 on his or her campaign and an extra 7p on every voter in the constituency. In the United States the race for the White House starts about two years before polling day, now costs more than $1 billion and displays a baffling complexity. In the political debate there are some concepts that are in and others which are fraught with odd associations. I learnt not to use the word liberal amongst American conservatives. It was the kiss of death, especially when the whiff of liberalism is administered by anyone on the west coast of America. It’s difficult there and perhaps here also, to get people to think beyond words and rather over defined categories.
Whatever the differences of style or emphasis this is a great land and I wish the American people as they decide.
Who will be living here in 2009??? The people have the power……thats democracy!