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Very Different Things

Entry 786, on 2008-06-04 at 20:08:24 (Rating 3, Politics)

About 4 months ago in this blog I predicted Barack Obama would win the Democratic presidential nomination and today that seems to have finally happened. I still don't know whether its official, because some news headlines are saying it is and others are saying he will win but it isn't official yet.

Either way he will meet John McCain in the presidential election itself (I can't belief there has been this much publicity before the real event even starts). So will the final outcome of this election be good or bad for the US, and what about the rest of the world?

Most people are predicting that the Democrats will win irrespective of who is standing, because Bush has given the Republicans such a bad reputation. I don't know whether that is really true because America is an intensely conservative country and I don't know whether they are quite ready for someone like Obama. And I just don't mean the obvious issue of race, its also his inexperience and idealism that might discourage many voters.

So I don't think McCain should be written off so quickly. In the current environment a war hero (its said that US people hold the military in very high esteem as a guardian of freedom - sort of ironic really) against someone who spoke against the war in Iraq might have a significant advantage. And the Republican party is very effective at winning elections even when the odds are against them.

Other people have suggested that the last two elections were rigged anyway so the Republicans will win no matter what else happens. While the voting machine fiasco was a factor in the past I'm not quite ready to accept that conspiracy theory yet!

Another attitude is that the president doesn't really matter because the government is controlled by big business interests and they will just get what they want irrespective of who wins. Again I think there is some truth in that but surely the president still has some degree of influence over the decisions which are made.

I have listened to some of Obama's speeches and have casually observed his campaign and he does seem like the sort of person who might make a good president. As many people point out, he is likely to be corrupted by the process and will probably need to make significant sacrifices to practicality if he does win, but that applies to anyone.

McCain is a bit more problematic. He has made speeches condemning some of the more extreme conservative factors in American life including Christian conservative nuts like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, but his innate religiosity and conservatism are still a problem. On the other hand, anyone would look good compared to Bush!

Whether we should care about what happens in the US is another matter of debate. Some people say America doesn't care much about the rest of the world, and that is true to an extent, but as the world's only superpower their political decisions will affect us anyway so we really should take some notice.

The fact is that with the global economy the way it is we might be affected by the policies of the US administration more than our own government. Food shortages, fuel availability, global political stability, and global warming are all factors which influence the New Zealand economy but none of them are under the control of our government. To a large extent the success or failure of our economy isn't necessarily that much to do with national politics at all.

So I do hope Obama wins and I hope he can pursue some of his more idealistic notions of change. But I don't necessarily think that will happen because political rhetoric and real action are two very different things!

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