Monday, August 20, 2007

depressing state of the union

I read the Guardian mostly everyday. It is my way of keeping up with news at home (as well as the BBC) and of reading commentators that I like who keep my weary brain cells ticking over. One such is Gary Younge. His pieces are quite brilliant. His book "Stranger in a Strange Land" is a brilliant collection of his Guardian writings from America. I highly recommend everyone read it and I'm ever grateful to my dear friend who gave it to me as a gift.

I have just read another of Younge's posts in today's paper. He outlines the depressing failures of the Bush administration and highlights a most disturbing trend that has been fostered and developed by the same administration. The trend is for the administration to see itself as separate from the "reality-based" consciousness and as acting upon situation not assessing them. That this American Empire can act upon its own whim without any analytical thought of the consequences is quite petrifying! The fact that the administration appears quite proud of that fact is astounding!!

One commenter on Younge's article put it perfectly and left me thoroughly depressed:

America's decline is a result of structural, systemic and ideological factors beyond George W. Bush, but he (with a little help from Bin Ladin) has certainly accelerated the decline dramatically.

In the space of a generation it has gone from the nation that put a man on the moon to the nation that took 5 days to get water to the Superdome. It has gone from the nation that played a critical role in defeating Facism to the greatest threat to peace on the planet. It has gone from a being promoter of human rights to being a nation practices torture and 'rendition' and that clings to the archaic vengeance of the death penalty. It looks up more of its own people than any other nation in history. It's failing healthcare system has led to financial nightmare, reduced life expectancy and even shorter heights for its citizens. It must borrow or sell assets to the tune of $2.5 billion every day in order to get by. It is a pariah, albeit a powerful one, among the world community.

America will never recover from the Bush presidency.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Please will you be my president!

I live in America. I have been living in America for seven years. I am a permanent resident. That means I cannot vote (on how my taxes are spent, how the roads are maintained, the schools taught etc etc).

I have just had coffee with a friend and the topic turned to politics. This topic, right now, in this country is depressing. The US right now feels like the UK did during Thatcherism (although she was popular for some of her "reign"). It feels hopeless and helpless. The light at the end of this tunnel, we hope, is the 2008 election.

So my friend and I discussed our opinions of the candidates. Hilary Clinton is the democratic front runner. She is experienced, intelligent, and well equipped for the job. Barack Obama is dynamic, personable and an amazing speaker. John Edwards is passionate on the behalf of the poor with a smile to melt any heart. Mitt Romney is a Mormon and supports the Iraq war. John McCain is (in my opinion) a little unhinged. Giuliani is plain scary.

Any Republican would (and always will be) in my book be a very bad thing (this country is far enough to the right as is!). So I turn to the Democrats.

Clinton is the front runner. I would love to see a woman in the White House but I worry what that woman would have to do to get there. Just as Thatcher wasn't really viewed as a "woman" in the UK (she had more testosterone than Attila the Hun!!), I feel that Clinton is having to become harder all the time and prove that she does not have all those silly sentiments attributed to the weaker sex. Feminism has come a long long way in forty years but some of the American electorate are stuck back in the fifties. I fear that her gender alone may mean that she would not make it through the White House doors and it pains me to say it!!

Obama is dynamic. He began his campaign promising to be different, to be untainted by the normal Washington filth. But I feel he is becoming more and more mainstream as the game is played. He is against the Iraq war and that is a tremendous thing but he is incredibly naive in his foreign policy attitudes - as the Pakistanis can attest. His speech making has not been as electrifying as I had hoped. Maybe he has a grand finale planned, who knows. However just like with Clinton, I think it would be amazing to see a black man in the US presidency. It would be a visual realisation of MLK's dream. But this country has swung further to the right than during the civil rights movement. This country, though clothed in the vocabulary of political correctness, is so conservative in its outlook that I fear a black man would not be allowed to grace the living quarters of the White House and I would fear for his safety. And again it pains me to say so.

So Edwards. The southern, white man with the electric smile. I like him. People like him. He's a likable guy. He has all the qualities to get elected. That hometown southern drawl is so attractive to voters in the US and his passion for the everyman who is struggling in this rocky economy is tangible. But sadly, very sadly, his wife is ill with cancer. What if she dies whilst he is president? How could a grieving widower with two small children cope with the burden of high office? It is so sad and I hope everyday that she can announce that she is cancer free - it would be brilliant news for her, her family and this nation!!

So who is left. I cannot vote and wish I could. The person I wish I could vote for and who I feel this country needs desperately and the world needs desperately is Al Gore. He won in 2000! This country voted for him in 2000! He has the experience, the credentials for the job but so much more. He realises the biggest threat to the world is global warming (that's global warming not 'climate change')!! As president he would have the ability to change policies to affect how we address this vital issue. I feel he is the strong steady, intelligent hand that is needed to guide this country out of the mess it is in. And it would be poetic to allow the American people the opportunity to vote for the man they wanted to run their country in the first place, to right a wrong done by the Supreme Court (I read somewhere that Bush won the 2000 election by 5 votes - 5 Supreme Court votes!!).

I know Al Gore is not in the running. But I hope he is thinking about it. I would be ecstatic if he would run. I'd batter every door down in my neighbourhood and tell everyone to get out and vote. I'd drive anyone eligible to vote to the polling booth myself. So my appeal (not that Al Gore likely reads this wee wittering blog) is that everyone speak out and ask Gore to run. Tell him we need him. Tell him the world needs him.