I can’t tell you how many times Americans seem amazed/impressed/appalled that I care so much about their election.
Maybe it’s a side effect of being the world’s remaining superpower, culturally and militarily, that you can’t see the impact you have on the world, and hence wonder why any ‘furreners’ who show any interest. But can I tell you something…
As a pretty politically active Brit, especially in the 90s, I can rarely remember a British election arousing so much interest, enthusiasm and debate. Yes, Obama has been the subject of most my political conversations for the last nine months now…
True, I’ve got a personal affinity. Having studied, worked, and lived in the US, having had both my brothers marry Americans (as I did) and been traveling there frequently since I was 19, America is the country I admire/distrust/can’t ignore in equal order. But it’s not just me – my whole country shares much of this fascination. My whole continent actually…
We aliens have no voice in this election. We have no votes, we can’t donate money. So instead, I’m donating something else. I’m sending my first born son, aged only 18, to do what he can (in a quiet way) to work for the campaign
Why do we think it’s so important? Actually, more importantly, why did my son (who can rarely be persuaded to make his bed let alone travel 3000 miles) think it was so important, that he moved heaven and earth in order to be involved in the campaign in the next forty days?
Well, he’s a smart lad, and like many of his generation in the US, he’s been enthused by a politician who seems to talk differently, think differently, act differently
My son is going to study History at Oxford next year, and perhaps his sense of history tells him how important this will be.
And then, as a Brit, there is the realisation that our fortunes, economically, culturally, and militarily, are completely entwined with the US. Of course, he’s watched every episode of the Simpsons since he was five, and these days the first thing we talk about after soccer is what happened in episodes of The Wire. But it’s not all good…
In his brief lifetime years he has seen the first Labour Government in history to win three terms, sink to its lowest popularity ratings in twenty years. He has witnessed the most successful Labour Politician ever, Tony Blair, reduced to pariah status. And why? It comes down to a simple word: Iraq.
Thanks to Iraq, and Tony Blair’s support for George W, millions of Brits were persuaded to permit this unseemly wasteful war. Blair and Bush had little in common, except a streak of divine evangelism (rare in the UK, obligatory in the US). At the time, thanks to Blair and several democratic friends in the State Department I finally bought the bullshit about WMD’s and Iraq’s imminent nuclear capability in about January 2003. Like millions of other Brits, I believed in the integrity of transatlantic alliance that had kept Western Europe free for half a century of cold war. And like the American people, we were shafted. Our soldiers died/still die (in much lesser numbers) because of Blair’s acquiescence to the Rumsfeld/Cheney neocon plan.
So, in his brief political lifetime, he’s seen his own father take the wrong side, and regret that decision ever since.
So guys, like it or loathe it, our fate is hitched to yours – so much so that I sometimes wonder, what the hell, why don’t we just become the 51st state? We’d have more electoral college votes than California. And since your Batman movies are actually stuffed with British actors doing brilliant US accents, you probably won’t notice the difference.
No representation without taxation – isn’t that what those English settlers said when they took on that German Monarch, and his German mercenary army?
So my son, who starts working on an Obama campaign tech company in mid October, can count as my IRS return.
Both of us know that this is probably the most important elections of our life time. If the US doesn’t turnaround, doesn’t return to the status of standard bearer for true democratic values, for social mobility and justice, some kind of global system of human rights and personal betterment, there’s no other candidate in the wings.
As someone much more famous than me once said: “The US is the worst superpower you could have. Except for all the others…”
Look after my son guys. I’m completely jealous of him. I would give my right arm to spend the next five weeks on the campaign, but it’s his future even more than mine. And I can’t imagine a better place to begin building it.