Friday, November 03, 2006


Why Shouldn't we have a Vote in US Elections?

My contact with Americans has mostly been very cordial. I find them friendly, warm, likeable and very eager to be liked. They must therefore find it galling that their president has been responsible for a pretty mega worldwide disillusion with the US of A. We learn from The Guardian today that in Mexico and Canada, over half of polled respondents thought George Bush's foreign policy has made the world less safe. In the UK, the figure is 69 per cent. When it comes to who poses the greatest danger to world peacewe place the Iranian president- who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth- at 62%, the dangerously eccentric Kim il Jong at 69% and Bush at 75%, 12 points behind Osama himself. But it gets worse.

The mid-term elections threaten to knock a wheel or two off Dubya's wagon. If we are lucky they will. 15 extra seats won by the Democrats and he will have lost control over the House of Representatives; most pollsters in the US think this is more rather than less likely. To do the same for the Senate, Democrtas will need to win six more seats but these contests are less likely to elude the efforts of Bush's election-meister, Karl Rove, whom, we learn is quietly confident his well funded last minute barrage of (often vicious) attack ads combined with the formidable Republican capacity for getting out the vote on the day, will deny the Democrats their possible victory.

Few tears will be lost this side of the Atlantic if Bush is rendered a lame duck president by these elections, unable to push his laws through Congress and vulnerable to the sort of powerfully intrusive inquiry(for example into the origins of the Iraq War) which Congress (but not our parliament), is capable of making. The biggest issue of the elections is Iraq and the majority of Americans have now lost faith in the adventure and want US troops withdrawn as soon as possible. Bush's personal ratings have plummetted to record lows in recent months but such is the power of the incumbent in the US Congress that Bush might still avoid the fate he so richly deserves.

It sometimes strikes me- as I contemplate from 3000 miles away- the way the world's only superpower is governed, that those countries, like us, which are so deeply affected by the actions of the US President, should also have a vote in their elections. From one point of view it would be impeccably democratic and also, at minimum, prevent anyone as dangerously incompetent as Bush from ever being elected; however, we can only dream.

Interesting idea - a couple of observations.

(1) I don't have the time to do the research on population etc. but I wonder whether the results might not be quite as you'd expect. Remember Rumsfeld's distinction between what he called old & new Europe? There's no doubting how old Europe would vote but if my memory serves the attitudes to Bush in recently liberated eastern bloc countries is nowhere near as hostile. If fact, just to be controversial, the last survey I recall on the politics of the Iraqi invasion taken among the Iraqi people themselves suggested 80%+ thought the USA had been right to act to remove Saddam so a hostile vote in the Middle East isn't as inevitable as you might think.

..and (2) fair's fair - I assume you'd be comfortable with all those southern redneck Christian fundamentalists having a vote in 2009 between Cameron & Blair..? Despite being on your right Skipper that still scares the s*** out of me. Prime Minister Farage or Griffin anyone...
Good point; I think I'll cancel that idea as 'nonoperational'(it was only a daydream). Even Prime Minister Cameron scares me shitless so....
Not sure I believe a lot of the disapproval figures for Mr Bush, and I am not sure I would care even if they were true. His job is tp protect the US national interest. His people...the best judges, endorsed his management of the country two years ago. Anyone who doesn't like it can get lost.

If people are stupid enough to believe that he is a bigger threat than North Korea and Bin Laden, then they are dumb and deserve to be ignored. The left did the same with the USSR. A lack of patriotism and courage to confront evil has always characterised them.

Karl Rove is vicious? Oh bless(!). The system over there is what is is, and both parties are the same. Don't complain just because the Democrats aren't as good at it. Apparently most Americans want troops out of Iraq? Have you asked them? I remember what they said in 2004. Do you?

The US protects US interests. We are lucky that these values are decent. If you don't like them that that is tough. But your characterisation of a politician as incompetent just because you disagree with him, is the kind of intellectual lazyness that will allow the Republicans to survive this election and retain the White House in two years.
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