I didn’t expect to write this blog today... It really has all happened terribly fast.
Yesterday, the wonderful men and women of the USA went to the polls.
Of course, when we, in the UK, go to the polls, it does happen fast. We start voting at 7 am and finish at 10pm and the first counts are generally in around midnight. By morning, the UK has a new Prime Minister and he starts work the same day.
No one expects it to work that way on the other side of the pond, though; that simply isn’t how they do things over there.
Back in 2004 George W. Bush and John Kerry did battle for the White House, and the election held on November 2nd resulted in a win for Bush, which was finally declared 65 days later on January 6th 2005!
A little over 122 million votes were cast in that election, and it took 65 days to verify just who had voted for whom... Only in America.
This election was over fast, and there were good reasons for that.
In times of crisis, and there is little doubt that the USA is struggling right now... In times of crisis, people cleave to what they know; they don’t look for change, but for stability; they don’t take risks, but seek the familiar.
I think this is particularly true of a system that elects a figurehead.
Barrack Obama has been presidential at a time when the American people have needed a president, and he’s been rewarded for that. I’m not convinced though, that it has anything very much to do with politics. In the end, the presidential election is exactly that, it’s a popularity contest. If it was about politics the Democrats would be doing better over all. Let us not forget that, in his first term, Barrack Obama had to deal with a Republican majority in Congress and a very evenly balanced Senate.
The real politics happen in the States the same place they happen everywhere else; they happen at a much more local level. Over the past few months, culminating in the USA going to the polls, yesterday, we’ve been watching the greatest show on Earth, but it was all a lot of sound and fury signifying much less than we all hoped for. If you want to make a real change, if you want to make a real difference to your life and to your children’s lives, start thinking about who you vote onto your school governing bodies, because they’re the people who employ your head teachers and allocate funds and resources in your schools; start thinking about who you elect onto your local councils, because they’re the people who determine how often your refuse is collected and whether your street is residents’ parking only; they determine whether your library stays open and who gets a free bus pass, and which schools your child is eligible for, and those are the things that make a difference in your life.
Hail to the Chief is fine, but I say God Bless the Child.