Monday, November 03, 2008

As the big day approaches...

Alright, so I can't vote in the US Presidential Elections.

But that doesn't mean I can't have an opinion on it. To any people who do have the option, please vote, and vote wisely. The President of the USA effectively has a massive impact on the rest of the world, in the way that being say, President of Ireland or Prime Minister of Australia just doesn't have (or First Minister of Scotland, for that matter).

You know Obama is the right choice. And if anyone thinks someone non-American should't be commenting, just remember how much impact a certain Australian has had on British politics for many years.

Here's a song I thought was appropriate, and by the sounds of it, as been misunderstood and misappropriated for longer than Springsteen's 'Born In The USA.'

Woody Guthrie -'This Land Is your land.' mp3

And remember: if you don't vote, don't bitch.

I'm playing the Yo Majesty LP, in the hope it will be the soundtrack of a brighter tomorrow...


twopalmtrees said...

I hope your comment "You know McCain is the right choice" was a statement of his position on the political spectrum rather than his suitability for the Presidency.

Ed said...

OMG - how embarassing. I meant Obama is the right choice and McCain is the right wing and therefore utterly unsuitable for election anywhere. Apologies.

Please forgive me. I desperately wish i could do something to impact on tomorrow's election, and checking my writing would help that.


And frankly, I wouldn't trust Sarah Palin as far as I could throw her...

tedk said...

Im an American living in Edinburgh, and I, like any sane person, voted for the goodie. Unless the polls are completely out of whack or the Repubs find another way to steal it, things are looking pretty positive at the moment.

It's remarkable to me that there is any doubt in my country as to the right choice, and rather embarrassing. Thanks for caring, and well, sorry it has such a big impact on everyone, especially because the whole thing might rest on the choices of "wal-mart moms" in the heartland. Our collective future decided by people who choose to shop at wal-mart. yay!

Trying to decide whether to go to bed early and get up in the wee hours, or just stay up all night . . .

Ed said...

If you don't have to work the next day, or you can get by without needing too much sleep, I'd watch it!

Everywhere has its' equivalent of the Wal-Mart Mums. People have a perception of the English abroad that they either a)are football hooligans or b) complete yahs who live in massive houses. And apparently Groundskeeper Willie (who is as Calvinist as they come) is how many people perceive the Scots.

I know there's anti-American feeling in the UK but I think (I HOPE!) it's more anti-Bush and Anti-Imperialism, which is not the same thing as being opposed to the American people.

tedk said...

There's a lot of anti-american [read bush, disney, wal-mart, christian-fundamentalists] feeling in my own head, much less the UK! I've been welcomed and treated as warmly here as I could possibly hope. Which of course reinforces to me how lame and xenophobic my own country can be toward 'for'ners' - going through passport control each way is really telling!

Anyway, here's to a new era, hopefully!

I do have to work tomorrow, but i can start late. Things should really get interesting around 2 am, so I'll probably take a nap after dinner and set the alarm.

Anonymous said...

What has Rolf Harris got to do with this? ;-)

Call me cynical, but there's a lot of truth in the old Irish adage: "Whoever you vote for, you end up with the Government ..."

Having lived for many years in a country with a properly organised social economy that has true proportional representation in its parliament, the faster we and the US get rid of our outdated and frankly corrupt electoral systems, the better.

cheers, Craig

Highlander said...

Ed, gotta take issue with your 'if you don't vote, don't bitch' comment.

I find it hard to believe that a nation of 300 million people can have their views reflected in a realistic choice of 2 parties. (In much the same way as the UK is limited to 3 parties. I know there are others but how often do they get in?).

US Voter turnout has traditionally averaged around the 50% mark indicating that a large proportion of people exercise their right not to vote. That does not mean that they waive their right to comment on the form of government or on the election outcome.

Reasons for not voting are manifold, from laziness to active dissent. I would venture that voting perpetuates the current system whereby political parties try to be 'all things to all men' which plainly isn't possible and gives rise to the mythical 'centre ground'. That the outcome is always a result for the ruling class - be it corporate business driven, aristocracy based, money based et al - is a given and merely highlights the inadequacy of, what we labour under the pretence of calling, our 'democracy'.

Hopefully the expected high voter turnout will be a reflection of an active interest, on the part of Americans, in changing things for the better. Whether that is inside, or outside, the voting system is up to the individual.

Rant over.

Ctelblog said...

Ummm...if the Australian comment referred to R*p*rt M*rd*ch, I think you'll find he's now officially American. I think he took citizenship as there was something about media owning and citizenship in the US.

entrailicus said...

Obama is someone's puppet and is destined to be out on his arse in four years' time. Sorry to shatter any illusions.

Honestly, anyone fooled into thinking they can clear up Bush's mess when they could realistically wait 12 more years - a point when je would have a much better chance of doing something - before trying to get into office must be under the influence of some pretty powerful people.

All those voting for his 'change' have very little idea what he could actually achieve. I'm not advocating the other lot but Obama is the right guy at the wrong time.

Here's an idea: the citizens of any country the US is at war with should be allowed to vote for their president.

Ed said...

probably THE most political posting on here ever...OK:

Craig -we have PR here in Scotland for the Scottish government, as the Parliament has now become, and I think the UK as a whole should have it.

Highlander -'if you don't vote, don't bitch.' I stand by this 100% - I think compulsory voting, by which you could spoil your voting paper, which is the law in many countries is actually pretty damn necessary. 'The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist' and the greatest one politicians ever pulled was disaffecting people to the extent they felt that they could no longer make a difference. there is no such thing as a perfect voting system, but if you do not actively get involved then you contribute the the malaise.

ctelblog - if R*p*rt M*rd*ch is American it still kind of proves the point; he is not a UK citizen and has had a way disproportionate impact on UK politics for decades.

Entarilicus: 'the citizens of any country the US is at war with should be allowed to vote for their president.' Actually, I'd go one further: everyone in the world over 18 should be able to vote for the US President, and the same might reasonably apply to any country with a similar foreign policy (and I include the UK) in that.

tedk said...

The cynicism is well founded, and, no, I dont expect sweeping change to happen overnight, or even over 8 years, but at least the downward spiral may level off, and we can begin climbing our way out. Do I think Barack Obama will save us? of course not, but to finally be rid of the Bush administration, and to have someone thoughtful in the White House, with a moderately progressive ideology will be a welcome change, and yes, pretty fucking huge, if only in its symbolism, after 8 years of watching my country become ever more anti-intellectual, narcissistic, imperial, and, now bankrupt.

Also, cynicism makes us feel smart and realistic, but if we are not also actively doing something to positively contribute to the situation, cynicism is pointless.

Ed said...

'...if we are not also actively doing something to positively contribute to the situation, cynicism is pointless.' I agree.

Too often trying to make a difference is reagrded as being naive and that we should just fall back into line and accept the status quo.

Sod that for a game of soldiers. To quote Neil Young 'It's better to burn out than fade away.' When applied to politics this should be translated, it's better to have tried to have made a difference and fail, than to be cynical, smug and jaded.

a Tart said...

And it is better to have upwards of 80% of the populace engaged (voting at least) than not. What Obama has done is get an entire generation of people thinking in what might be possible in the political arena. And that arena has always been white, male, middle-aged and rich. That change alone is meaningful enough to alter our trajectory in world politics - call me crazy if you will.

who's moved her blog to wordpress

entrailicus said...

Another Bush gone, that's enough change for now.

Jon said...

I am as cynical as the next guy, but after hearing Obama give his speech tonight I was struck by three things: 1) his subdued nature indicates to me that he understands the challenges that lie ahead. 2) The tone and feel of his words conveyed both hope and a sense of gravitas and 3) the way he has changed the discussion in American politcs away from division and party loyalty and towards coalition building and change. It was really inspiring and make me hope that he is the real deal.

Highlander said...

Ed - If you wish to narrow your viewpoint to such an extent that the only political course of action open exists within the current system then, yes, "if you don't vote, don't bitch" is probably as good as it is going to get.

However, you appear to accept, by implication, that politicians have little interest in those who elect them ("...greatest one politicians ever pulled was disaffecting people...") but this leads you to assert, wrongly in my opinion, that people feel they can not make a difference as a result. I agree that the state has no interest in anything other than propping up capitalism, but I would counter that people everywhere are making a difference outwith the auspices of the current system purely because they recognise that very same system is not designed to act in their interests - and so they have to step outside it.

As far as voting goes, whilst spoiling your paper does make a statement of sorts it would not affect the outcome of any election of those same disinterested politicians. They will still get into power on the back of first past the post majorities of minority turnouts. (I live in a Tory run council where fewer than 20% of the people actually voted Conservative)

New Labour have instigated repressive social legislation on a scale not seen before in an attempt to monitor, coerce, scaremonger, cajole and generally bully the population into their social management schema. Anti Social Behaviour Orders, Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, Dispersal Orders, CCTV profligation, ID cards, communications monitoring, detention without charge, stop and search - these are all policies designed to repress a population. Compulsory voting is part and parcel of the same thing. "Ladies And Gentlemen, behold our marvellous Democracy where everybody votes - Because they have to! Under threat of punishment."

My political engagement is grass roots - through my union and other channels and that, to me, is active involvement. The malaise exists at the top and in the minds of those who are naive enough to believe that dropping a piece of paper in a ballot box every two to four years constitutes a political contribution.

Ed said...

Well, hopefully a brighter day has happened. And I'm really hoping that this IS a brighter day.

Highlander - I think you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree. Because I'm rather saddened that you actually see working within the system as a narrow viewpoint. On the contrary: it can be a deeply subversive activity and ultimately achieve aims. It's a recognition of the fact that it is far more realistic and more likely to achieve change, as opposed to posturing that I have seen so many effect, and do nothing about. You can surround the houses of parliament and protest, or alternatively, get into the engine rooms of power. The latter actually affects realistic, long-lasting change. And the reality is that long-lasting change will take longer to achieve. People who criticise the system but do not work to change it are no help at all. The Monty Python 'Life Of Brian' sequence is the epitome of that. So busy arguing about small details that nothing actually gets done. It's not about either acting inside or outside of the system; sometimes it's about doing all that you can to move things forward, and that may include working both inside and outside. To talk about working inside or outside of the system is to look at things from anarrow viewpoint that is so black and white it's no better than Dubya.

Additionally, At best it would be silly, and at worst offensive and dangerous, to forget just how hard the right to vote was fought for, in many countries. Not to vote is a wasted opportunity. You clearly disapprove of first past the post, so do I, and I am not really in favour of tactically voting either.

I consider myself politically active; I am a member of a teaching union, and consider that encouraging my secondary students to think for themselves is a deeply political act. Especially teaching in a small town, where there is unthinking and thinking racism. As a socialist and indeed as a human being this is abhorrent to me. Due to the culture of wet liberalism pervading education it is not possible to have people more severely dealt with for making racist remarks, especially in the post-Thatcherite 'me!me!me!' climate where everyone thinks they know their rights but has no conception of their responsibilities. New Labour have let people down BUT if we accept that in UK elections that it really is a two horse race (I'm not sure I want to accept this) it would be better to vote for them than the Tories.

I certainly am not naive enough to think that voting changes it all, but not being involved enough even to vote is worrying. (Anyone who accuses me of being naive doesn't know me!) Encouraging people to vote is imperative and that is a political act, waking people out of their apathy. It's part of the process, like being a member of a union, engaging in political debate, signing petitions, and even writing about stuff on blogs.

At university I was considered odd for even wanting to talk about politics. But to let thinsg slip is to allow the bad guys chance to gain a foothold in power and that cannot be allowed to happen.

robert said...

"And that arena has always been white, male, middle-aged and rich."

Hmmn...I'm three out of four of those (I'm hardly rich), but I voted for Obama.

I don't usually vote along party lines; over the years I've voted for Democrats, Republicans*, and Indepedents for President. *But not Reagan or Bush, Jr., I hasten to add.

I voted for Obama mainly because the thought of Sarah Palin being a heartbeat away from being the leader of the most powerful country in the world scared me to death.

While I didn't agree with many of McCain's policies, I also didn't believe that he would do anything as stupid as Bush's invasion of Iraq. The man spent years in an POW camp - I honestly don't think he would be likely to set a course of action that would see others having to suffer the same. But Palin was naive enough, and inexperienced enough, that I felt that she could be capable of doing just about anything.

And Obama - yes, he has many fine qualities. But before marking the ballot, I had to ask myself one final question. Do I really want a West Ham United supporter in the White House? Despite that pretty grisly thought, I took the plunge.

IMI said...

"Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" -- John McCain

Ed said...

Oh Lord...