American Election – the Debates

I’m a great fan of watching American presidential elections – they are for me the modern panem et circenses – democracy at it’s most open, raw and aggressive. And I tend to mainly read Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, which obviously instantly pegs me as part of the liberal establishment. Today’s entry is analysing the rush polls from last night’s first debate (a win for Romney) and the long term effect this might or might not have. What I really like though is the comments section at the bottom which so sums up the problems with American democracy. So far we have the full set – right-wingers accusing him of bias and selective analysis, and saying that he would say what he says because he is part of the liberal conspiracy elite, left wingers denouncing that poll (but the left wingers are always less entertaining than the right wingers) and of course the obligatory wingnuts, including this one:

I predict that we will have a “New” President come November and it will either be “The incumbent or the challenger” Follow me? Presidential in “Deeds” not just “appearance.” The Constitution is our Manuel. You don’t tweak OUR Manuel just to satisfy your own agenda….

All the hallmarks of the true wingnut – completely incomprehensible, random words capitalised or in quotes as if they were more significant for some reason, and the obligatory misspelling, in this case of one of his significant words, and in a way that makes it even funnier than it intended to be. If only they had a crayon option in the comments pane.

My favourite comment so far has to be a Facebook from my friend Adrian in Malta:

Woohoo! Romney won the first debate. He’s completely turned me around. Fuck the poor. He’s got my vote. Oh wait. I’m not American 🙁

Second House

Not the sort by the seaside, and but the one in Westminster. Why are we talking about a second elected chamber that is just going to end up with party placement and professional politicians like the lower house? After 15 years you are really going to have forgotten what real life is like.
Why not go back to a much older idea and have 200 members chosen for 6 months or a year by lottery? No arguments then about over or under representation. And a short period is long enough for then to remember who they are and not become assimilated into the system.

Power politics

I think it was Norman Lamont who used his resignation speech to describe the major government as ‘in office but not in power’. Is this an example of the reverse; an opposition that is ‘in power but not in office’?

Do you actually need to win elections if you can announce policies and watch the government of the day implement them for you. Maybe the opposition needs to make more use of this ‘soft power’. Obviously not being in office means you lack the vast resource of government patronage, but  since that ultimately corrupts every government, maybe that’s actually a good thing.