THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POND

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Dear American Voters

I follow the news, I’ve studied your constitutional history, I’ve lived in the country, I have family and friends in your country. I’ve watched every episode of the West Wing.  And there’s still a list of things I really don’t understand about this year’s Presidential election.

1          Why does it start now? (Or, why does it take so long to get a new President?)  It’s February 1st today.  The election is in November.  The new President takes office towards the end of January next year.  Why does it take roughly a quarter of a presidential term from first vote to through the door?  And that doesn’t even try to unravel why a large part of 2015 seemed to have been spent on candidates positioning themselves.  There are overtones of work filling the time available.  Wouldn’t a shorter process be better – and would it really produce a different outcome?

2          What’s the significance of Iowa? I know that Iowa and New Hampshire are the first states to vote in the primaries, but why those states and why is Iowa seen as so important?  From a current affairs radio programme this morning, it seemed as though this was a key test for some other reason than it’s one of the first states to vote, but I’m still not clear why Iowa matters.

3          Why is so much money spent? I know the glib answer to this, the lobbyist’s answer, the vested interests’ answer and the rest of them, but I come back to the question of whether it would make any difference to the eventual result if there were a cap on spending.

4          Why is your populist moment being expressed in a billionaire candidate? Populism in Europe tends to be expressed for parties, rather than individuals (so we see your populism as anti-establishment, rather than a true populist groundswell), and it seems odd that a billionaire can appear in the field.  Is it because your populist/anti-establishment upsurge is actually a re-assertion of the individual and individual rights and freedoms, rather a social movement?

5          If we have so much coverage of your election, why don’t we get a vote? Americans don’t generally have the same level of exposure to international news that we have in the UK.  I assure you that we have an excess of coverage of the Presidential election across all media.  I feel I know the candidates personally.  So, why don’t we get a vote?!

Yours

A bewildered Brit

 

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