Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Day 2012

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By Terry Orr

In the next 24 hours – “We the People” will elect our next President of the United States of America, one third of our Senators and all 435 House of Representatives, many State Governors and their respective elected officials.
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Our friends across the Atlantic recently wrote an interesting article about our upcoming election from their perspective – always nice to view the elephant from a different perspective.  “The outcome of this battle is not only important to America but also to the rest of the world”.  By DR NIGEL BOWLES

The polls can barely separate the pair, who both stand at around 47 per cent – with many still undecided. 

Given the turbulent times we live in, both financially and in terms of international politics — with Iran and Israel rattling sabres, and North Africa increasingly unstable — the outcome is not only hugely important to America but also to the rest of the world.

Despite the rise of China and the rapid growth of other nations, such as India and Brazil, the U.S. remains the dominant player on the global stage. It is still a military colossus and the engine room of the global economy, with its capacity for innovation and wealth creation undimmed.

For Britain, American presidential elections are particularly significant, given the unique ties between our countries. The U.S., for instance, invests far more in Britain than Europe does.

Recently, Mitt Romney was singing the praises of Margaret Thatcher in one of his stump speeches, while world politics in the previous decade was dominated by the bond formed between George W. Bush and Tony Blair during their fight against terrorism.

Given its global importance, what is extraordinary about the presidential election is its complexity, both in the process itself and in the impact of the result.

Because of the federal structure of American politics, this is far from a straightforward contest.

The winner is not decided by a clear majority of the overall national vote, but by individual victories in the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) that make up America. In truth, it is not one presidential race but 51 — and the result will be decided by a few swing states.

Moreover, having gained office, the President is severely constrained by other political institutions, including Congress and the state legislatures.

The whole system of governance, dating back to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, had the ‘separation of powers’ at its heart, based on the idea that the Executive, namely the Presidency, should not be able to control the legislature or Congress.

This separation of powers, though, can lead to deadlock and obstructionism in Washington, weakening the scope of the President to provide the leadership the world so badly needs.

These limitations on the Presidency are sometimes forgotten in the drama of the race itself, when candidates make grandiose claims about their ability to transform America’s fortunes.

Few recent elections have been more dramatic than this one, partly because the race is so close and partly because there are many fewer undecided voters than previously.

The sense of a nation divided that has gripped this election is felt throughout American politics, which accounts for the increasingly bitter tone of campaigning.

In the past, it was not always easy to gauge voters’ party allegiances from their background or region or even political outlook.

But now, as politics of identity and region have become much stronger, the south and the centre have become overwhelmingly Republican. The eastern and western seaboards are largely Democratic.

Evangelical Christians are more likely to vote Republican, while urban voters are more likely to back the Democrats.

Most disturbing of all, in the land that was meant to be the great melting-pot, is the growing racial divide. Integration is giving way to division.

African-Americans now vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats, while the white population increasingly supports the Republicans.

In fact, while such a split might help Romney this time, in the long term it spells disaster for the Republican Party, since the effects of mass immigration and higher ethnic minority birth rates mean that the make-up of the American population, like the British one, is changing rapidly.
So whoever wins on November 6 is going to face a monumental challenge. For all the rhetoric about ‘change’ in this campaign, the reality of division in the population and the partisan deadlock in Washington means that his task could not be more daunting.

Read more: 

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I believe DR Nigel Bowels has captured the essence of the election fairly well.
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Diane and I hope that all American citizens will exercise their right to vote and let their voice be heard. By all predictions - this election will be very close!

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