It is hard to be optimistic about the US elections sometimes.
Voting rules have been added at the last minute to make the process so complex it causes seven-hour ballot queues. Thousands of lawyers are at the ready in Ohio alone to sue and countersue over who shouldn't have been allowed to vote in the first place.
Republicans are set to oppose everything Obama does if he gets re-elected. Democrats are poised to oppose everything Romney does if he gets elected.
And the electorate is so over-saturated with nasty, hateful and racist ads as to turn even more off the dream of functioning democracy, cooperation and moderation. [To prove how easy it is to make a negative ad, please find this helpful example I've recorded]
This endless US presidential election process ends tonight— assuming there aren't weeks and months of legal challenges. But the optimist in me sees no route forward.
Ordinary citizens - the overwhelming majority of them - are good people, neighbours and passionate Americans. But their leaders, the media and the donors that feed and feed off them, are not. "Power corrupts, absolutely", and where is the desire to go back? If a politician stood up tomorrow and said he or she wasn't going to fight to raise a minimum $10,000 each week in campaign contributions for the next election, they would face certain defeat by an opponent, or
even de-selection by his or her own party. There is no room for principles, even as media commentators pretend to cry out for it.
Obama professed, in rhetoric at least, that he wanted to be principled, but he was hemmed in by people on all sides who were never satisfied by their own unmet expectations and hints of paranoia. Could he have been stronger? Absolutely. Would it have made a difference? No. About $2 billion has been spent in total by both sides in this cycle. That's a disgusting amount of money, much of it contributed by those same ordinary citizens who were convinced it could help their side to victory. Heck, Romney even named his local outlets "Victory Offices". If you don't win, you're losers. If you do win, the other guys are losers. The opponent is an enemy.
Both sides have lied - Romney's overwhelmingly more so. Both have been insanely negative. There is no winner in war. Didn't any of these alleged history buffs ever read history? Yes, someone won in the second world war. But both sides waged devastation upon the masses in various degress in the process. It was not free of innocent slaughter.
And that approach seems to be taken by officialdom of Democrat and Republican parties, and the bloggers who won't shut up about them.
People who support Obama are "libtards". People who support Romney are "fucktards". Yep. It's that civil. In some places, when a community or country wakes up from an election result, its people shrug their shoulders and say, "Ok, that's what we've got now - let's get on with it". Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't.
The problem this time, perhaps more than any previous election, is that too many people will not simply accept the result and move on. Obama's campaign podium always reads "Forward". Forward to what? Nobody will work with anybody after this, particularly if - as is possible - Romney wins the popular vote, but Obama becomes president from the electoral college.
Someone very high up will have to say enough is enough. Obama gave speeches saying as much in 2008, but it didn't work, probably because there's still too much racism in America. And because his actions weren't as convincing. Who would bother to stand up again? Hillary Clinton in 2016? Chris Christie in 2016? I wouldn't count on it.
The rest of us need an America with an economy in recovery and a shrinking debt that doesn't put them in the pockets of China. And it needs an America that is a beacon of active and functioning democracy.
None of that will be possible unless the rhetoric of the past four years is toned down, maturity restored and war against the electorate ended. I don't know who will lead this brave new world, but I hope someone does someday.
First Published On : Nov 6, 2012 16:53 IST