Thursday, 8 November 2012

Probama - but why?

Hello again

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably found it hard to escape the US Presidential Election this week.

I've followed the proceedings over the last few months and was very happy to see Obama get another four years - a sentiment shared by a lot of people I know.  But not everyone.

Over the last week or so I've seen some comments suggesting that the amount of UK media coverage we gave to the US election was "ridiculous" and we "should focus on our country".  That got me thinking as to why so many people had caught Election Fever.

To be honest I'm not sure I know.  I'm not an overtly political person myself (and this really isn't going to be a politics lecture of any kind so don't worry) so I'm not going to try and justify the fervour with a discussion of policy.  The few reasons I came up with are:
  • Glamour.  There's no doubt that the US election process is more glamourous than its UK equivalent (the introduction of the "debates" to the last UK election is a nod to that I think) and the rallies, celebrity endorsements and victory speeches are TV moments that capture your attention.  I set off late for work yesterday morning as I was watched Romney's concession and then Obama's entrance to Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours.
  • Charisma.  Without delving into specifics, it's probably not unfair to say that Barack Obama has a tad more charisma then Messrs Cameron, Milliband and Clegg. 
  • Escapism.  Being able to forget about what's going on closer to home (cf. economy, EU, unemployment, evil banks, tax dodgers etc) and watch a soap-opera of sorts.
  • It matters.  What happens in America affects us all to some degree and things matter more when you have a stake in the outcome
  • The West Wing. OK, this might just be me, but having watched the complete series of The West Wing a number of times (something I'd urge you all to do) has developed my interest in how these things work as well as given me a (glamourised) appreciation of what goes into the process
  • Technology.  There are a number of stories from both 2008 and 2012 about how the Obama team in particular have used technology and past election data to target voters and increase turnout.  The application of those methods is interesting (for some people at least)
  • Gambling.  I had a few quid on Obama getting a second term.  As one UK bookie used to say, "It matters more when you've got money on it"
  • Good vs Evil.  There's nothing like a good old-fashioned Hollywood battle of good vs evil and to some degree this is what the US election is to a lot of people (again, I'll skirt the policy and politics here).  Watching the momentum build to the result is, amongst other things, compelling viewing.  It could probably only be improved by chucking a couple of light sabres into the mix.
All of the above isn't to say that I think you should have an interest in such things.  I do understand, and appreciate, the arguments against getting too involved in another country's electoral process - something probably exacerbated if you're disillusioned with the state of your country.  I also think that spending over £1bn on campaigning is a bit abhorrent but it seems to be the price of success in the modern world.

Whatever your thoughts on the whole thing, it's done now for another 4 years.  Whether good did triumph over evil is for you to decide (if you want to).

In non-vote counting news, I'll be putting together the first of two posts about my favourite music of 2012 in the next few weeks.  If you want to see last year's, here's the link to the Top 20 of 2011 - The Shortlist (which itself contains the link to the 2011 Longlist).  This is a personal highlight of the year for me - going back over 50 or so EPs and albums from the year and making a playlist is very satisfying.

Also keep an eye out for my next DiabetesUK blog which should be done in a week or so.

Thanks for reading - hopefully it wasn't too much of a politics seminar for you.  See you next time


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