A Foreigner Weighs In On An Election That Either Is or Isn’t Any of His Business

My follower Americans. Gaze upon my catchy title and despair.

I write today on behalf of the other six continents of the world, to have a chat about what you’re up to tomorrow.

Firstly, though, I don’t want this to be just about politics – we’re more civil than that aren’t we? How are you? How’s your day been? What awful weather you’re having!1

Right, small talk over with, I urge you to at least consider the impact tomorrow’s election on us, the rest of the world. There’s a chance that with the storm raging outside and blowing uprooted campaign picket signs against your windows you tried to escape the election by taking to the internet and opting for a slice of Britain instead. Instead, you will be sorely disappointed, because you all vote on our collective behalf for the man who will become/stay the President of pretty much the Western World. So don’t blow it.

In order to represent my thoughts on the matter – which you are, as always, more than welcome to ignore, dismiss, sweep under the rug or print out and piss on as a gesture of badwill – allow me to tell you the story of my people.2 (It is not a very good story.)

The UK government is, at present, an impotent disappointment, or as it’s officially known, a Coalition Government, which was the outcome of two parties having to merge together to get a majority share of seats in Parliament. The Conservatives (right wing/the 1%) merged with the Liberal Democrats (neither as liberal nor as democratic as Labour) to oust the incumbents. The Conservatives don’t represent the majority of Britons and the government doesn’t even represent them.

You might have seen the pudgy over-privileged face of our current Prime Minister, a Mr. David Cameron. I did not vote for ‘Call me Dave ‘cause I’m just like you’ Cameron,3 but other people did, and that’s democracy. The whole country voted and instead we got a Parliament that nobody directly voted for. Progress!

However, I mention The Little Government That Nobody Wanted to illustrate a point; all Cameron had to do to get elected was to say ‘You know that guy? Well I’m not him.’ He did this by using the word ‘change’ quite a lot in his campaign. Your average voter won’t demand anything more from a politician, and thus change was effected.4

Anyway, the actual point: whatever your political leaning, I urge you not to be gullible.5 I understand your right wing news networks are depressingly effective at spreading what amounts to little more than the word ‘bullshit’ sung over and over again to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner.6 I am lucky to have a genuinely impartial broadcaster (the BBC) to provide me with my news, but in this day and age, a candidate’s public persona is by far their most important asset, and that’s controlled by the media in all its multifarious forms.

Fear of public disapproval guides far too many decisions to allow real progress in any direction, especially as it’s now easier than ever to have your voice heard. Elections are one of those rare occasions when everyone’s opinion is exactly as valuable as everyone else’s, regardless of what it’s based on or how well informed it is. And in theory, that’s marvelous.

In the last twenty years, pattern emerge in governments worldwide; most of the adventurous, genuinely revolutionary legislation happens at the end of the leader’s term of office, because they don’t have to save face in order to get re-elected. A new government’s main venture is usually just a redistribution of funding; big legislation won’t happen until there’s either a furore or a lull. It’s also worth noting (although perhaps this is less so in the States) that a different political party in power does not necessarily mean the entire cabinet changes hands. Most of the people who make decisions that will directly affect you – your Leslie Knope’s and your Ron Swanson’s – will keep their positions but have the priority of their jobs shuffled, and finances will follow accordingly.

If change is what you want, you’re (in principle) better off allowing the current government to carry out its full plan.

But then I would say that, because this:

The World Wants Obama to Win the US Election

I’m not obliquely trying to influence your vote, because I’m ultimately powerless, over here on my little island, typing my ignorable words, but please be aware that American Exceptionalism ends at your coastlines and you don’t want to look stupid in front of the United Nations. I imagine Mr. Romney will/would be devastated to learn that his UN diplomacy desk (complete with miniature flag!) is exactly the same size as everyone else’s and he’ll have to put his hand up to ask questions.7

***

I promise I won’t talk politics again, or at least that if I do, you won’t have to care because it won’t directly affect you, and that it will hopefully be funnier. I am really looking forward to y’all’s blogs as Election Day takes hold, whatever the outcome. I’m genuinely excited to hear the experiences of actual Americans for the first time!

In less serious news, I went to see James Bond and he’s smashing.


1 The evil part of me is writing this whole post as an excuse to publish this abhorrently tasteless joke.

2 It’s interesting that I write this on November 5th, which, in the UK at least, is the commemorative day of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which some anarchists tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. A bloke called Guido ‘Guy’ Fawkes was found in the catacombs with the guilty match and 36 barrels of the stuff and was hung, drawn and quartered for his trouble. Us Brits set light to a straw man as a reminder that either what-we-now-call-terrorism will get you killed once and then burned again every year after, or that the government is accountable to us – I’ve forgotten which.

You might recognise his distinctive face from it’s use as a mask in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, and more recently from the Occupy protests and the internet activists Anonymous. There’s been a slight shift in meaning to Guy’s face over the centuries, and it’s interesting to perhaps consider that all notoriety fades in time, and the meaning of a symbol is defined only by it’s popularity. I wonder which symbols of our current age will be slightly misappropriated in 400 years time?

3 If you would like to know more about UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s failure to properly achieve the one thing he was born and raised to do, please divert your attention to frighteningly cerebral stand-up Stewart Lee. Morrisey’s let himself go.

4 In a similar manner to Sandy’s raging along the US East Cost, David Cameron seized a marketing opportunity when floods hit the UK by popping on wellies and standing in a puddle and looking to the heavens as if asking ‘why?’ The answer was ‘The water cycle’ but he wasn’t looking for answers, he was looking for people to believe he was doing something about the floods whilst the incumbent PM did nothing. Neither man was, is or ever will be a Weather God, but this stunt apparently worked a treat. Let this be a lesson: on no account should Mitt Romney be aloud to win votes just because he owns wet weather gear.

6 Obama is not a Muslim, and is American. In fact – this’ll annoy you – (and if you’re playing the race card in 2012 you deserve at least a little annoyance) two of my legally British friends are voting tomorrow, because they were born in Cincinnati, OH and Corpus Christi, TX and then emigrated. That’s all it takes, and Obama ticks that box.

6 As a rule, if the opposing argument would be equally effective if the word ‘AMERICA’ was dropped in at strategic points then it’s probably not worth listening to.

7 I don’t imagine he’d take well to climate change actually existing either. BOOM!

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42 thoughts on “A Foreigner Weighs In On An Election That Either Is or Isn’t Any of His Business

  1. I want Obama to win for numerous reasons, but also because the idea of Mitt Romney being President scares the bejeezus out of me. It really does.

    On a side note, I will be seeing “Skyfall” this weekend. I cannot wait.

    • It’s really, really good. (Skyfall, not Romney’s America.)

      It’ll be a shame if Obama loses on account of unavoidable mistakes. It was the Bush administration that dicked the economy over, and he’s not done mopping up the mess. The changes those Tea Party people want literally can’t happen.

      Speaking of them, could you have a word and get them to give us our phrase back? I can’t take afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches without someone thinking I’m an irrational sensationalist, which is most vexing. My monocle popped out and everything.

      • I assume that was Actual Clint Eastwood? The second guy looked like Dwight from The Office.

        If you’re the laughing stock of the world, it’s not Obama’s fault. It’s be people like that, voting against progress in favour of Biblical interpretations. ‘That’s not what America’s about.’ America is all things. America is The Great Experiment. You are a truly unique country that by rights should be the most progressive nation on the planet, but the plan falls flat when we take into account that, if everybody has their say, some of them are going to be wilfully ignorant.

      • I like how when asked to back up their reasons for saying the things they were saying about Obama all you got were blank stares. You know why? Because they don’t know what they’re talking about! I honestly believe that the majority of Romney voters (especially those that are white) are doing so because they don’t want a black President. It saddens me to say that racism still exists (openly, too) here in the U.S.

      • It’s not just racism, it’s all flavours of bigotry. That old woman with the weirdly coloured face needs to shut up about Romney being God’s choice. Obama’s a Christian too, isn’t he?

      • He is, but they all insist on calling him a Muslim. I can’t even remember where the Muslim thing came from. They’re so, so stupid. It’s embarrassing, really.

      • I also think it might have something to do with the fact that his first name rhymes with that of a certain (now dead) leader of a certain Middle Eastern fighting group.

  2. The concept of Mitt Romney representing American to the rest of the world is completely and utterly terrifying. Admittedly, I don’t like *everything* Obama stands for and has to offer, but Romney terrifies me.

    • Obama appears to have disappointed some, which is fair enough, but in this instance he’s the lesser of two evils. And he’s not really that evil. If he IS evil, he’s sort of badass-evil, like Christopher Lee.

      Also; explain to me why Universal Healthcare is communist? What do they think will happen? Do they WANT poor people to stay ill?

      • It’s because those crazy Romney people see Obama’s idea of healthcare for everyone as “socialist” and therefore “communist”. And, didn’t you know, communism is bad.

        In other words, they’re really dumb.

  3. As an Ohioan, I will be happy when the election is over. My mailbox is really tired of glossy political fliers that serve no purpose but to end the life of trees. But I will happily be in line to vote, and I shall be glued to the TV all day. Well, maybe not the TV, but certainly my laptop.

  4. I’m dying a little inside because I’m overseas and can’t go home to vote. It’s interesting that you mentioned the article because I was just reading a similar article about people in different countries and their opinions on the election. On a tangent, I heard Romney apparently calls himself “middle-class.” Yeah, I’d like to see another middle-class family with a six-figure salary, multiple mansions, and a boat to boot.

  5. The idea of yet another wealthy pampered son with daddy issues (Mittens is obsessed with doing what his daddy, George, failed to achieve in 1968) moving into the Oval Office four years after the last wealthy pampered son with daddy issues, W or if you prefer, Shrub, completed eight years of dragging this country deep into the crapper weighs heavy on my mind. One of my favorite New York Times Op-Ed columnists, Maureen Dowd, refers to them as “dauphins”. Although I think Obama’s four years have been flawed, I’d still rate him a passing grade and I think he is leading this country, and by extension the world, down the right path. It goes without say that Obama’s race is a huge reason why some people in this country will simply never vote for him, whereas Romney’s followers are comprised almost entirely of one color — a near blinding shade of vanilla — but I have a few questions for you. What are the odds of a person of color being a member of Parliament much less Prime Minister on your side of the pond? What is the percentage of Parliamentarians that are non-white males?

    • You’re correct that race is much less of an issue here; the ratio is decent and getting progressively better. There are 144 female MPs (Members of Parliament) to 500 males. Ethnicity is not kept on records for politeness, but at the 2010 election there were 27 MPs from ethnic minorities. I remember election night showing a veritable smorgasbord of races, but for varying reasons people didn’t get elected. The odds, as you can see, are not amazing, but progress is being made.
      The House of Lords, however (there are two Chambers of Parliament) is made up almost entirely of aged old men with wobbly jowls and voices like the Frog Chorus. They barely represent anyone. Maybe you’ve got a point.

  6. My (soon-to-be-EX) FB friends have me fed up with the Romney love. So refreshing to see so many fellow bloggers in support of Obama. I’m truly scared what might happen tomorrow. *Cue dramatic music*

    • That’s what worries me; all the Americans I interact with online are, almost without exception, Liberal leaning. Unfortunately, with your chief media outlets being NY and California, us other Earthlings are limited to a pro-Obama view.

      I know full well that opposition to this view exists – how else did Bush get elected twice? – but I never see it. THAT’s what scares me. There’s an enemy I can’t see, and it’s stupid.

  7. I can’t read things like this without feeling some incredibly uncomfortable feeling that I can’t quite label, like simultaneous shame and self-justification. It’s like when your parents embarrass you, and then someone points out just how embarrassing they are. This is, of course, through no fault of your own — I agree with all of this. It just kind of makes me wish I was Canadian.

    Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson. Check, check.

    • It’s by no means a dig at you, or any of your countrymen; you and I share a political view, but I’d hoped that I could persuade Americans not to be as gullible as we were two years ago, because gullibility got the UK halfway to nowhere.

      Unfortunately, the US’s version of gullibility tallies up with Republican beliefs, as well as bigotry-masquerading-as-‘faith’.

      I’d probably never have watched Parks & Rec without your recommendation, so thanks-a-big-time.

      • Yes — I must hear your thoughts on Parks and Rec. I’m okay with Leslie and Tom, hate Ann and Ben, and LOVE April and Ron. I could watch “The April and Ron Show” all day. Jerry is too Toby-esque for my taste.

      • Andy and April are sublime, Ron’s fantastic, although somewhat diluted by be championed in meme form. I find Leslie very likeable, and don’t really mind Ben or Chris. Ann can do one.

        I’ve always liked the Sad Sacks; Ted, Toby, George-Michael etc. so I quite like Jerry. I reckon his defining moment was getting to pick the restaurant for Tom’s divorce, and picking one he goes to three times a week, which is dinosaur themed, which he enjoys like a child, and what is clearly the only joy in his life.

        ‘I typed your symptoms into WebMD and it says you have Network Connectivity Problems.’

      • How did I not mention Andy?!?!? He is my favorite. Along with April and Ron. (I ignore all Ron memes in order to preserve his magnificent-ness.) I love both George-Michael and Toby, and I think I would love Jerry as well if i hadn’t already seen The Office. Also, it is 3:33 am. To be continued.

    • Well, I knew full well I’d be alienating everyone else and I did it anyway, because I’m a blummin’ maverick or something.

      Let’s stay huddled in this dark corner by the loos, watching those Yankie-Doodles prove they aren’t stupid.

    • Amen, sister.
      And thank you, I’ve made a concerted effort this year to be less one-sided and more informed, in order to be able to justify my thoughts. Unfortunately, nobody with opposing arguments seems to appreciate this.

  8. That was pretty spot on, my duck from across the pond! I am quite ready for everyone to get there vote on and stop posting the most asinine propaganda on Facebook. I’ve been amazed at how easily people believe information or “statistics” without fact checking. For the past month I have been fact checking and debunking BS on my friends’ pages, but regardless, they keep them up! Imagine that??? People WANT to believe everything negative about the opposition, and disbelieve everything about their candidate even when given facts supporting or discrediting either claim. I have been debating on severing several ties due to their chosen ignorance, but then my friends list would decrease by 70% and I just can’t have that! So instead I’ve soft-blocked them…

    2 other discussion points that I need to talk with my Biscuitballs about, that are far more pressing than any election.

    Does Skyfall the movie, live up to the Skyfall theme song? I am in love with Adele’s voice and the song has convinced me that this is the BEST JAMES BOND MOVIE there will ever be!

    Also, How do you feel about Disney acquiring LucasArts? My group of nerd friends have mixed emotions. Some are getting nostalgic and want Disney to leave the Star Wars franchise alone, others are all for remakes and expansions…. Opinion?

    I am leaning more towards excited to see what Disney will do. But I also am about 15 years younger than my fellow nerd friends and apparently not entitled to their level of passion… ya know… since they stood in line at releases and such.

    • I’ve never been a duck before. Quack.

      Yes, Skyfall is Craig’s best film. Much more of it takes place on home turf than previous films, so it feels very ‘British’. Adele does very well, as you know, but she’s merely a part of a very good film. My love of Bond has a lot to do with my relationship with my Dad, and he loved it too. The only criticism, really, is that it messes with a fan theory somewhat, but we can talk about that after you’ve seen it.

      As for Star Wars, I must confess that I am not particularly nerdy in that direction. I think I might have cumulatively seen two films worth of Star Wars. For me it’s a shame that the original creator won’t be continuing to realise his vision, but as he was pretty much done, and considering what he and Spielberg did to Indy, I can’t say I mind too much. Star Wars fans would have found a reason to hate whatever they did next with the franchise, just like Republicans and Obama.

  9. I like you, Chris. I didn’t realize at first that you were a Brit. This is useful to me because I’m reviewing those God-awful books that one of your countrymen wrote (thank you so much for E.L. James) and it is so loaded with British-isms that sometimes I have to “phone a friend” for help. I’ve read enough books and movies to know a lot of British stuff (and I salivate over the accent) but some things still get by me.

    Anyway, I totally agree with all your points. Our Republicans – at the very least the fringe ones – make us look like total wackadoodles. I am SO thankful that Obama won – I was seriously worried for a while there. Then when we realized he had made it, around about 10:30, several of us on Facebook turned to Fox News and watched them cry. It was glorious, truly glorious. Money for once didn’t buy an election. A man far more concerned with what’s in a woman’s uterus and keeping every dime for himself than about the many people hungry, poor, and without medical care did not win. Am I a tad passionate about this topic? Yes. It’s pretty much my only religion, and quite frankly, I believe my liberal views are closer to Christian than many I’ve seen some Republicans displaying while on their way to Sunday School.

    Now I didn’t write a post about this, because I tend to – well, you’ve seen how long just my comment was, yes? But I did comment on several other blogs, and got like 10 followers overnight, so shockingly there are people out there that agree w/ me. But living in the Bible Belt of Texas, it’s hard to remember that. Anyway, winding this post down, now that the election’s over, I can finally watch those comedy routines of yours. Saying I can find them again.

    Alice

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