The Election IS NOT Important
Given the unprecedented media fixation on a campaign that has now lasted over two years, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is the most consequential US election in a generation. There are a number of reasons why you would be wrong.
Americans like to think of their President as the most powerful man in the world, but everywhere you look there are other sources of power that threaten this special status:
OPEC; The Murdoch press; China; The Kremlin and its swarm of oligarchs. In the context of a global decline in Western power, whoever holds the Presidency is becoming an increasing irrelevance.
The financial crisis has already cast a long shadow over the term of the President-elect. Fighting the fires lit by a prolonged global recession and a national budget deficit topping $1 trillion may turn out to be more pressing priorities for the new President than tackling climate change or restoring the world’s faith in America – a commodity so grievously damaged by eight years of Bush.
At home, America’s leader is hamstrung by a decades-long politics of stagnation and partisanship in Washington, whilst abroad he is mired in two nasty foreign wars of indeterminate length, and chained to a War on Terror which is doomed to failure in its current form. No one has yet explained how it is possible to fight a successful battle against an common noun.
In a world marked by the emergence of new economic and military powers, it remains to be seen how Obama will cope with a sustained challenge to US global hegemony, and how much change he will truly be able to carry out.
The Election IS Important
American elections come but once every four years: few elections in the world generate or demand such attention, such focus and such passion. While some may watch with scornful eyes at the sniping, the money and the circus that follows the race for the White House few elections have come at such a defining moment for America.?
Barack Obama’s movement for change is uniting a divided nation; this election has set forward not only America’s future but also the world’s future. The President-elect, when taking over in January, will inherit a nation in two seemingly never ending wars, a world economic crisis and a health system that leaves 47 million people in the world’s richest country unprotected. ?While the American President may have little in the way of tangible power, this influence is great.
The world hurts after eight long years of George W. Bush, in more ways than war. The American system provides an unprecedented ability to close one chapter and open another. This president has the power to unite the world, and his nation, behind a new common purpose and deliver the world leadership so lacking at a time of violence and financial crisis. The change may not be easy; it may not come instantly, but this election dawns a new era for world politics.
Jamie McMahon, ?Chair of Nottingham Labour students 08/09