Tuesday, 28 October 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel pretty fine ackshully

A black man in the White House; it is a nightmare scenario for many of the US's right-wing evangelical "Christians". The coverage on both sides of the pond of this presidential race has been unprecedented. This has meant that us lily-livered, European, pinko, liberals have been exposed to extreme views coming from both the Republican and Democratic sides of the great political divide. But is it just me, or are the views on one side just a little bit more extreme than the most extreme views on the other side?

From insidious comments about the "Arab" Obama and the "un-American" nature of his name to downright bigoted and racial slurs, it has been terrifying to watch the citizens of the US give voice to their most deep-seated fears and prejudices.

Let me give you a few simple examples...

  • "I'm not voting for Obama, he's black" - Charles, Pennsylvania
  • “It’s important to scrutinize Obama’s Muslim background to determine if his Islamic past influences his decisions and actions toward America, including his decision to select an anti-American pastor as his spiritual adviser.” - National black Republican Association
  • “He’s a Muslim socialist.” - Marcia Stirman, chairman of Otero County Republican Women in New Mexico
  • "I like McCain because I can say his name, so I'll probably vote for McCain. [Obama ]He's from Africa or something. I don't even know where he's from". Waitress, Pennsylvania
  • “President Hussein” - Ann Coulter, American Political Commentator
You get the picture! And The examples are practically endless.

Now, although Obama may be ten or so points ahead in the polls I would like to remind you of a few things. Firstly, the examples given above are not isolated. Even if such views are not publicly expressed, they may be privately felt. This may have a dramatic effect on polling day.

Secondly, disenfranchisement of voters has gone on for decades in the US: from deletion of people form electoral registers through to the use of faulty voting machines, both of which disproportionately affect people from poorer socio-economic classes; in other words, democratic voters.

Finally, do not forget that this nation has only returned two democratic presidents since Lyndon B. Johnson, and never forget that this nation saw fit to vote George W. Bush in for a second term with an even larger majority than his first run for the office. Until all votes are in, count no chickens, and be afraid!

To end on an even more gloomy note, I leave you with some infamous words on the democratic process - it's not the votes that count, it's who counts them (often attributed to Joseph Stalin). Let's hope the right man wins.

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