Maybe We’re Just too Hard on Ourselves

From the BBC’s Justin Webb’s blog on this year’s presidential race:

So the Kennedy magic is sprinkled on the senator from Illinois. Thinking about Barack Obama and watching him at work in the last few days, I find myself wondering if he and the other candidates (Republicans as well), even the Clintons in their way, have already achieved some of the change they desire, some of the bright new start they promise.

Many Americans hope that this election will alter worldwide perceptions of their nation – many foreigners, friends of America put off by the Bush years, hope the same thing. Wait till January 2009 they say: help is at hand. But look at the vigour of the process this year, the unique openness, the stunning setbacks and comebacks, the media being caught out so badly in New Hampshire, the Obama rallies, Bill’s bulging eyes, Huckabee’s fascinating recalibration of the evangelical message from hellfire soon to milk and honey now (and no income tax to boot) etc etc etc.

While I think some of Webb’s piece on the US elections can be attributed, perhaps, to a Brit’s romantic view of American democracy, he has a point.

We might bitch about our candidates to no end. Most likely, we will end up voting for a lesser evil rather than a greater good, but seems that the process so far has done a lot to reengage Americans in the political process. As evidenced by record turnout (on the Democratic side) so far in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Perhaps Obama’s showings have been a result of the elusive “youth vote” that finally materialized in a way it never did for Howard Dean or other candidates who were dependent upon first-time voters.

So far, even with all of its nastiness, the campaign is shaping up to be the most interesting one in my lifetime as it looks likely that either party might have a convention in which the nominee is chosen.

With the writers’ strike, this election has turned into a telenovela for many Americans, and for that reason, I don’t know if I could be more pleased.

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