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!