The US Election – Less Than 365 Days Left!

I follow US Presidential politics and this year is shaping up to be one of the most interesting elections in a long time – because of the Iraq War, because of the razor-thin margins (and resulting controversy) of the last two elections in 2000 and 2004, because the Democrats made a stunning comeback in the 2006 mid-term elections in both Congress and the Senate but have been largely ineffectual since (with many commentators speculating that the Dems don't want to risk doing anything drastic or controversial – ie. impeachment – that might damage what looks like a sure victory in 2008.)

For the Republicans, the current front runners are Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney (interestingly, two men with a history of being more liberal than conservative) and for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. 

There are a number of interesting stories that can or will come out of this election.  Hillary Clinton could be the first female President, Barack Obama could be the first African-American President, Bill Richardson (who's polling around 4th for the Democrats in most places) would be the first Hispanic President if he somehow managed to win, Mitt Romney would be the first Mormon President, Giuliani would be the first cross-dressing President

In addition, if Hillary Clinton wins, that would mean an uninterrupted twenty-five year stretch of Clintons and Bushes in the White House going back to the George H. Bush Vice-Presidency in 1981!  (I thought monarchies were why the United States had a revolution against England?)

Barack Obama echoes of John Kennedy in his youth and charisma, bursting onto the scene with a mesmerizing speech at the 2004 Democratic convention. 

Nothing is likely to come of it but perhaps the most interesting element to me is the groundswell of support (especially online) for two unique candidates – one from each party. 

Ron Paul is a Texas Congressman and physician who once ran for President as a Libertarian and is the only Republican candidate that favours leaving Iraq. He is against the War on Drugs, the Patriot Act and even the US having a federal income tax.  These qualities match up closely with the beliefs of many of the technorati who are highly active online.  These people have responded by giving Paul (who is a distant fourth or further, in most polls of Republican candidates) a record for single-day fundraising efforts, fittingly on November 5 (Guy Fawkes Day which commemorates a thwarted plot to overthrow the English Parliament).  Unlike the other candidates for both parties, this fundraising isn't being coordinated by the campaign but is happening spontaneously as Ron Paul supporters plan “moneybomb” days which raise millions via thousands of small, direct donations.

The other unique candidate is Dennis Kucinich who is so liberal by American standards, he's practically a Canadian. But when polls are conducted in the US to match a cross-section of American respondents to see who best matches their own beliefs without naming candidates, Kucinich is always the winner (sorry can't find the reference for this statement but I did read it somewhere.) 

He has an amazing life story – occasionally living in his parent's car when they were poor, making his high school football team weighing at 4'9″ and 97 pounds, becoming the youngest mayor in US history – but because he's very short, he claims to have seen a UFO and he's married to a woman half his age (but who, except for her British citizenship, might be an even better President than him),  he gets marginalized completely.

Kucinich even broached the idea of a cross-party ticket of these two Internet favourites to bridge the red-blue divide in the US but was rebuffed by Ron Paul.  Still the idea of two candidates – one from each end of the political spectrum –  who have the support of real people rather than corporations and lobbyists and who believe in principles rather than profits makes you wonder what might have been since you know it will never have a chance to be.

Some related stories…

Washington Post's: The Line – Ranking the Presidential Candidates

Ron Paul Bears An Empty Pot” – A Political Folk Tale

The Heroics of Dennis Kucinich

Comments 4

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Related to the American versus Canadian political values thing – if you haven't read it already, I think you'd like Michael Adams' Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada, and the Myth of Converging Values. It's an interesting book (and hey, it would count for the Canadian Book Challenge, heh).

    Posted 11 Dec 2007 at 5:58 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    My vote is still for Colbert, all the way.

    Posted 11 Dec 2007 at 2:54 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    I wish his “run” hadn't been thwarted so quickly by the powers that be. Would've been interesting to see where it went. Could've been surprising (and scary!)

    Posted 23 Dec 2007 at 8:52 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    I haven't read it but it's on my radar (which is one zone outside my “To Read” list which is one step removed from my “Read Soon!” list.)
    But yeah, anybody who titles their first book _Sex In The Snow_ is okay by me (even if the subtitle is a more pedestrian “Canadian Social Values at the end of the Millennium”)

    Posted 23 Dec 2007 at 9:08 pm
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