Tuesday, November 02
And so at long last we come to the day when the people must choose, when an entire nation will hold its breath, confident but not certain that they chose right, that the horse they have backed in this most important of races will win.
Yes, it's Melbourne Cup time again.
Meanwhile in America they will be voting for the man who will, effectively, be the leader of the world for the next four years. Or not, in the unlikely event that John Kerry wins.
While I can only really give President Bush a C on domestic policy and a B on foreign policy, for an aggregate B-, Senator Kerry gets a big fat F because no-one, including Kerry himself, can say what his policies actually are. (Though he has assured us that he does in fact have some.)
I do expect that President Bush will win, based on our experience with the polls here in Australia. In many ways the American election is the Australian election writ large. It's not the same, of course; John Howard here could campaign on his record of nine years of economic growth, low inflation, low interest rates, low unemployment, and budget surpluses (though admittedly not low taxes). President Bush has had to contend with the bursting of the dot-com bubble, the financial aftershocks of September 11, and footing most of the bill for the War on Terror and the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq.
But we do have in common a right-of-centre leader who is solidly committed to the War, and a left-wing challenger who, well, isn't. Mark Latham is something of a thug, where Kerry is an elitist through-and-through, but they share a contempt for the very people they claim to represent. Howard and Bush, on the other hand, share an effective common touch.
The polls in Australia were predicting a very close race right up until the election, many of them indeed giving it to Latham; so much so that even Tim Blair was convinced that Latham was going to win. Of course, in the end, we had if not a landslide then certainly a comfortable victory for John Howard and the Liberals* with an increased majority in the House of Representatives and a new-found majority in the Senate, the first time in over twenty years that one party has controlled both houses. (There's no seperate vote for Prime Minister, incidentally; the leader of the party with a majority in the House becomes the Prime Minister.)
Despite the neck-and-neck polling before the day, in the only poll that really counts John Howard led by over 5 points, with a final result of 52.61% for the Coalition** against 47.39% for Labour, after votes for the various pathetic losers are distributed.
So if you're seeing a tight race, with Bush ahead by perhaps two points and the Electoral College uncertain, you might be in for a pleasant*** surprise, with a 53-46 win for Bush and a solid 320 in the Electoral College.
Or I could be blowing smoke, of course.
America is, where it counts, the biggest country in the world. By far. I mean, there's America, and then there's all of Europe put together, and then there's China, and India and Japan...
So the characters of the American elections are larger than life, or have become so through the eyes of the media. There's George Bush, who has either freed fifty million people from death, torture and despair, or who has plunged the world into a war which can never be won and should never have been fought. There's John Kerry, who is either a traitor and self-confessed war-criminal who never made a decision based on anything other than what is best for John Kerry, or the only hope for achieving peace and restoring America's standing in the eyes of the world.
You know how I feel - rather closer to the former in each case than the latter - but the yawning chasm between how many on each side view their respective candidates gives an air of unreality to the whole event. We had our bit of drama back in 1975, when the Governor-General, John Kerr, sacked the Prime Minister of the day, Gough Whitlam. But that happened, and a new government was formed, and we got on with things as Aussies tend to do: The most recent election lasted six weeks from the start of campaigning to the acceptance speech.****
And so, soon, very soon unless it's close enough that the left can unleash their Dark Army (that is, lawyers), we'll know who will be president for the next four years.
If it's George W. Bush, well and good. The War on Terror will continue, hopefully with less of the fits-and-starts we've seen in Iraq, while we in the saner parts of the blogosphere can turn our attention - at least partly - to the domestic front; to more frivolous issues like anime and computer games; to serious long-term stuff like the continuing decay of Europe and the deadly hold that Post-Modernism still has on our universities. And we'll delight in the gibbering and shrieking arising from the encampments of the demoralised Left.
If it's John Kerry, not so good. If he is elected clearly and cleanly, then America will survive, but I certainly do not trust him to address the critical issues of Islamofascism and Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions. With four years of Kerry, and a gloating Left and a mainstream media vindicated in its bias, we'll really have our work cut out for us. It's will be about education, countering disinformation, and watching for trouble we don't trust the government to see.
Far worse if the election becomes one huge legal battle, but America survived the Civil War and will survive this too. Still, suing your way to the presidency is an attack on the electoral process itself and a massive disenfranchisement of the people, and it isn't something anyone should want to see. Even if Kerry wins this way, he will have established a precedent that very likely will ultimately destroy him.
But my girl Trixie says that it will be Bush, and if you can't trust your own twice-unborn grand-daughter, who can you trust? And my feeble attempts and number-crunching tell me the same. So does the blatant desperation in the Kerry camp, and so does the smart money.
And however it turns out, one thing is certain: MuNu/Blogosphere: Four more years!
* For those new tho Australian politics, the Liberals are the conservative party down here.
** The Liberals are in a long-term coalition with the National Party, formerly the National Country Party, formerly (I think) the Country Party. The leader of the National Party becomes Deputy Prime Minister under the terms of the coalition.
*** Or, if you are a Kerry supporter (in which case you have come to the wrong blog), unpleasant.
**** Albeit the senate results took another couple of weeks to nail down due to the insanely complicated redistributions of preferences and quotas that are required. Our system allows a party with less than 1% of the vote in a given state to win a seat in the senate by the distribution of preferences through several levels of indirection. Take a look at this page and complain to me about two-party systems.
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