It’s 24 hours until the votes will start coming back for the US Presidential nominations. In just over a day we’ll start to have a clearer picture of whether it’s four more years or time for change. There are many on this side of the Atlantic that are sick of the coverage, and probably many in the United States as well, but, like or loathe it, this may one of the most important elections in our lifetime, maybe even our parents’.
It’s easy to be caught up in the rhetoric, and that Obama will transform the USA into a country that will leave today’s United States looking like a distant memory in four years’ time, and only the most carried away idealist would think that it’s that easy, but the choice that the American people have is clear: another term for the GOP, and it’ll be a continuation of what has come before (even if McCain wants to paint himself as the maverick, he’s voted for 90% of the bills that Bush proposed), or the Democrats, and at least a chance to take the country from the isolationist war-hungry superpower it is, into a country that is willing to engage, to discuss, and to reach out.
Make no mistake, if the rest of the world could vote, Obama would be a shoe-in. In recent polls in the UK, and in Europe, more than 75% of those questioned wanted him in office over the embattled veteran McCain. But it’s down to the American people, and in their hands is the future of their country, and, beyond that, the ripples that wash across the globe every time the US wields its power. The signs are good. Obama leads by between 6 and 10%, depending on which polls you follow, and has done since the economic crisis hit hard. Ironically, until then, Obama was struggling after a wave of (successful) negative attacks.
But for once, the legacy of his own party looks likely to be McCain’s downfall. Even better, his running mate, Sarah Palin, will be spared the terrifying prospect of being a breath away from the Commander in Chief role. This is a woman that would still forbid abortion even in the case of incestual rape, and believes man-made global warming is mostly a myth. There are so many things wrong with this woman being in office as the VP that it’s too short a time to list them here.
It won’t be an easy ride. The US Economy will be the elephant in the room, whichever candidate wins. Their four year term’s spending plans will be crippled by the bail-out and losses (nothing, obviously, compared to the 100m a month that is going on the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts) and the legacy of the Bush years will be felt far and wide. But Obama is as equipped as any to deal with it.
So, cross your fingers, arms, legs and everything else, and pray that America follows through its intention from the polls and makes history by putting Barack Obama in office. The alternative is too bleak to consider.