Worrying about the US & Elections in general

As we approach the US elections (tomorrow), I wonder what will decide it.

Who is the candidate best able to lead the USA (in the view of Americans – taking a wide view)?


  • Who wins the Electoral College?
  • Who wins the court battles?
  • Who wins the advertising war (a function of funding)?
  • Who wins the media battle where the media is deregulated and in places highly partisan?
  • Who is unable to vote because of last-minute “found” irregularities in their registration?
  • Who is unable to vote because voting out of working hours has been restricted?
  • Whose vote is not counted because the voting machine in certain districts did not properly cut out their chad?
  • Who is unable to vote because post-Sandy, there is no power for voting machines or polling stations are closed or moved?
  • Who is unable to vote because post-Sandy, they have more vital things to do?

Is this the best way to decide who leads the USA and, by definition, the Western World?

Some would argue that most of the points listed above are a function of how good the party machines are and that is an ideal criteria for deciding who should manage the USA.  If you cannot attract the funding,you are not worth supporting, if you cannot get your vote out you “obviously don’t command real support”, the media just reflects popular opinion, etc.

Others might feel a degree of unease possibly bordering on disgust at some of the shenanigans that went on in 2000 or are going on this year.  Does the US system really represent the pinnacle of democracy that we should seek to export to other parts of the world?

A “Presidential” system focuses on an individual and can cause visceral hatred – the venom directed at Obama is in places horrific (one is tempted to wonder whether the Ali G question is having an impact), whilst the suspicion of Romney’s Mormonism is also possibly a significant undercurrent.  Likewise the selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate was a high risk decision that may have sunk the republicans last time.

A two-party system also seems to highly polarise opinion – and a presidential system encourages the development of a two-party system.  Looking at the electoral map it also looks as if the USA is geographically divided as well.  Even with AV or similar third parties will get squeezed.  To get the nomination you need to appeal to your “core supporters”; to win the election you need to appeal to the “undecideds”.  That leads to hypocrisy or hostages to fortune (or both).

In some respects I should just say “it’s not my country, let them get on with it”, but the impact on my country (the United Kingdom) is too huge.  I am worried that my country’s foreign and defence policies (and probably other policies) is heavily influenced by a country that appears increasingly alien.  Watching makes me feel even more “European” and therefore even more nervous about changes in the UK such as the abolition of the Police Committees to be replaced with the election of single politically nominated Police Commissioners.  A parliamentary system, whereby you elect your parliament and your council (in a country with a requirement that the broadcast media be balanced), and those parliaments and councils then get on with running the country has much to commend it.  (A better voting system would then help increase the legitimacy of those bodies.)

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: