US election 2008

I believe it would be quite remiss of me NOT to make some kind of intimation that the US Presidential Election took place and had an absolutely bloody brilliant result, don’t you?

The US system of candidate nomination, primaries and the Grand Final, over what seems an inordinately long period of  time, seems exceedingly odd to those of us brought up with the Westminster System . . . which is really the basis of the US system of course, with the two Houses et al, but where did all that primaries stuff come from? 

It makes absolutely no sense and it’s main purpose seems to be to divide the parties [eg, Democrats into Hillary vs Barack supporters; aren’t they all on the same side?  FFSL] and bore the population to tears, with campaigning so far in advance of the Presidential Election that by the time that day in November rolls around no one no-one can be buggered to turn out to vote.

I am cringingly ashamed of my ignorance;  obviously someone needs to explain this to me.  Please be gentle. 

It also really bugs me how low voter turn-out has been in previous years; something like 30% of those eligible actually went to a polling booth?  That’s crazy.  Compulsory voting might seem totalitarian to someone from the US, but we Australians view voting as our right, not a privilege or something to be taken advantage of if you’re in the mood, whatever. 

That was the great, heartening thing about this election; voter turn-out was so much higher, polling booths were packed and people were queuing for hours and not giving up and going home to the TV.  That’s awesome.  Obviously people are starting to take their right to vote seriously and feeling passionate about being heard – I don’t care who an individual votes for so long as they damn well vote!

. . . . . . . . . .

Anyways the lead up to and the day of the Presidential Election was very exciting.  The rest of the world has become much more interested and invested in the result, and was pretty much dreading another Republican administration [and why is the term “administration” not “government”?].  Bush has really stuffed things up over the last eight years; before he stole won the 2000 election the US economy was in great shape; foreign policy was sane, relations with other nations were cordial and peaceful; domestic policy was improving, ditto women’s rights, education, minority rights.  Environmental policy still left a lot to be desired of course; this would have changed under Gore, but with Bush in charge it’s been rape and pillage all the way.

So yay, Barack Obama.  It’s certainly a historic win.  I was a firm supporter all the way, the Inexperienced tag seemed to me to be a positive rather than a negative; the only thing that bugged me was his religious beliefs but I hope he’s going to try and keep church and state a little more distanced than Bush / Cheney. 

And of course it’s an amazing, historic win for an African American to have the top post in the White House when 40 years ago there was civil rights unrest, fighting for rights, and MLK’s dream.  The USA has come a long, long way which is wonderful to see.  What I find even more significant is that Obama is the first President with a non-Anglo-Saxon name, and a name with Arabic roots at that [Barack was Mohammed’s horse; it’s also Arabic and Hebrew for lightning].     

[At the same time I find it slightly odd that there’s so much emphasis on Obama being the first Black President, when he’s actually half white / mixed?  Isn’t that kind of racist nit-picking?  Anyone?]

. . . . . . . . . .

The man faces a really, really tough job.  He’s got so much to fix and such high expectations to fulfll.  Iraq and Afghanistan;  domestic and foreign policy;  health care;  redistribution of wealth / taxation and on and on and on.  His stance on environmental issues is clear;  no more denying the existence of the climate crisis and other environmental issues, and there will be real tangible changes in policy, not just meaningless rhetoric.  Whoa now, that’s a bit better than Moose-Shootin’ Palin who probably doesn’t even acknowledge that polar bears are becoming extinct in her own State . . . well this is the person who thought Africa was a single country, not a continent, oh dear.

[Mind you, I think it’s absolutely vile and hypocritical the way the boys of the Grand Ol’ Party are now blaming her for their defeat.  They knew exactly what they were getting when they elevated her to that position;  now, because their tactic – ie, “ooh, everyone with a vagina will vote for the person with the vagina!” – was unsuccessful they turn on her and say how unsympathetic, ignorant, useless blah blah blah she was.]

I think Obama has made a great start already with setting up transition teams and taking that side of things so seriously, getting to know the people he’s going to have to deal with [even before he was elected he was making contact and asking for information;  this is a good thing, he’s not a puppet on a string], and his stance on restricting the role of lobbyists in the transition and after is pretty damn cool.

So yes, I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief here;  as an Australian I know it’s really none of my business who USAns vote for and elect as their President, but the outcome does affect the global community in a major way, and Australians in particular as our government has allied itself so closely with the US.

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