Yes, finally I succumb and write something on the US election. The inspiration was one of my favourite writers, Hunter S. Thompson – see his . excellent article on IOL. A colleague knows a supposedly accurate clairvoyant who’s predicted a Kerry win. With nothing better but a clairvoyant and blind hope to go on I’m cautiously positive. Neil Blakey-Milner has also cracked and posted on the election – his post led me to commentary.co.za’s endorsement of Kerry. While streets apart from them politically, I take solace in their conservative endorsement of Kerry.
I’ve questioned myself quite extensively on this – wouldn’t another Bush win lead to a positive outcome? Is there really a difference between them? Is Kerry not the respectable face of American imperialism? With Bush being so dislikeable, perhaps a win for him would lead to invigoration amongst environmentalists and other progressive forces. Every effect has an opposing effect – the aftermath of World War II was positive, humans undertaking not to repeat the atrocities. Bush is not up there with Hitler yet, but who knows what a second term would bring. Right now Bush is the planet’s number one baddie, but I’d like to be optimistic, and think that people can say ‘never again’ without Bush having to go to the level of Nazi Germany. I do really believe that humanity is evolving – the level of opposition to the Iraq invasion gives me hope. In the US, there’s already a groundswell of support for democracy, many new voters registering and probably voting for the first time as they realise a vote does make a difference (see the M&G’s article on Ohio’s non-voters getting a push (it’s a locked article). I’m still optimistic – I think voting does make a difference. In the South African General election I encountered this same issue, with progressive friends deciding not to vote, some supporting calls from a social movement, and others just apathetic. I still believe a non-vote is in effect a vote for the status quo – American’s who didn’t vote effectively supported Bush. South African’s who didn’t vote supported a two-thirds majority for the ANC. The idea of a non-vote as protest does not hold water – the system treats the non-voters as apathetic and they exclude themselves from any influence on the outcome.
In a poll of international readers on the US presidential election, I voted for David Cobb – I bet most of you haven’t a clue who he is! There’re quite a few candidates to choose from. The fact that only two have the funding to win shows up the flaws in the US system. If I were really American I’d probably have to vote for Kerry, a pragmatic choice with it coming down to him or Bush. Hooray for proportional representation here. Neil made an interesting point in his blog when deciding to post on the topic – that the South African election rarely gets analysed in this detail. Perhaps. I’d like to think I spent more effort deciding who to vote for locally than I did on the US election, but it’s a fact that the US being the superpower bully they are, who they choose to lead them has a disproportionate effect on us down on the Southern tip of Africa. I mean how much coverage has the Botswanan election got?
I surprised myself and managed not to froth too much in my US election post, and I promise that’ll be it, at least until it’s all over.