To thine own self be true

It’s a funny New World

Posted by Polonius on 5 November, 2008

From a UK perspective, Americans are a funny lot. They certainly appear more patriotic than we do, which can be a bad thing, but strengthens their economy and who can blame them for that? I was, until a few moments ago, under the impression that they were more interested in politics than we are, until I checked out Wikipedia on voter turnout – 54% to our 76%!

I thought the Democrats had made a tactical error in choosing Obama. From my own very limited empirical evidence, I fear racism is rife in the US. I don’t speak to many Americans in the average month, but I am disgusted at how many of them feel it necessary to volunteer their appalling views to relative strangers. And I suspect most of the racists are Republicans. So I felt that Obama could win the primaries battle, but lose the election war; that his candidacy would bring out the racists among the Republicans, who simply wouldn’t bother to vote against Clinton. Is tactical racism excusable? The pragmatist in me felt that choosing a candidate to take account of the opposition’s prejudices is unpleasant, but a necessary evil. I was wrong, and it wasn’t necessary.

American election candidates often fight dirty, but even by US standards, Elizabeth Dole is pond-scum. Perhaps the saddest aspect of that incident is the possibility that it might have worked; the idea that Godless Americans are a bad thing. Would you rather have elected representatives who made decisions on the basis of evidence, or ones who believed that the voices in their heads came from the creator of the universe, who takes an active interest in events on this insignificant little planet? The tragedy of US democracy is that the majority of Americans are irrational. The wonder of US democracy is that the framers of the Constitution took great care to limit the power of religious fantasy.

Update: Forgot to mention – it’s a shock to learn that you’re older than POTUS!


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