Final Thoughts on the US Election
The build up is almost over and soon the people of the United States (or at least their courts) will decide who will occupy the White House for the next four years. It has been a fierce campaign, matched and if anything exceeded by the ferocity of the debates through the media and online between […]
The build up is almost over and soon the people of the United States (or at least their courts) will decide who will occupy the White House for the next four years. It has been a fierce campaign, matched and if anything exceeded by the ferocity of the debates through the media and online between supporters of the two opposing candidates. I think Harry Shearer was right to describe the discourse as vituperative.
Jon Stewart’s appearance on CNN’s Crossfire highlighted the way television debate programmes have polarised the electorate and obfusicated the real issues. Certainly the mainstream televison stations have done little to clarify the avalanche of falsehoods and misrepresentations presented as facts.
However, all this deflects us from the substantive issues of what is probably the most important US election in recent memory. We not only have the Iraq debarcle (here is a PDF with my views on why the US was in such a hurry to go to war with Iraq), but also a legion of issues from the enviroment, the rollback of civil rights and gender equality to the unfundable tax cuts. But perhaps the most fearful portent is the militancy of conservative Christians. In this trend I detect a hardness and anger together with an almost idolatrous support for the president, which I simply cannot reconcile with my understanding of Christianity. These people see the real prize of this election as the chance to appoint anywhere up to four new Supreme Court justices and thus redefine the USA’s social policy in almost theocratic terms for, well, certainly for the rest of my lifetime.
I wish I could share the confidence of Markos Moulitsas that the polls indicate an impending Bush defeat. The US is a rapidly changing country that, as David Brooks points out is being divided along socio-ideological lines. This means polls, even the best state by state polls, may not be accurate enough guides.
My fear is the the Republican political machine will, in the end, simply proove too strong and too ruthless. From attack dog Karl Rove to the former executive director of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed there was always the potential for a campaign that will result in a lot of surprises for the pollsters and pundits. Bush stopped even trying to appeal to the middle ground long ago and most of the Evangelical networks that Reed taps still fly under the radar of mainstream media.
I hate to say it, but I fear Bush will win. However, I still pray every night that I’m wrong.