OCD is the term that could be used to describe a new political creature, the Obsessive Compulsive Democrat. As we now enter the last day before what has perhaps been the world’s longest (and certainly most expensive) election campaign, OCD victims the world over have been obsessively checking the websites, from RealClearPolitics to Pollster, Electoral-Vote.com (whom I still haven’t forgiven for leading me to think a Kerry win was about to happen four years ago) and the multitude of media election sites for hourly updates on the latest poll from just about anywhere.
In my own case, my OCD symptoms were exacerbated when I installed a couple of election widgets on my 3G iPhone; last thing at night, first thing in the morning, and who knows how many times in between, I’ve found myself sneaking a peek at the ebbing and flowing charts, tables and graphics.
No doubt about it, this has been one hell of a ding dong battle. Both Obama and McCain were rank outsiders in the first place to even get their party nominations. Hillary Clinton was at least 20 points clear of the young Chicago pretender when he threw his hat in the ring. And Hillary had pretty much the entire machinery of the Democratic party behind her (not to mention to imprimatur of Blessed William Jefferson). And yet Obama, as much it seems a force of nature as just a mere politician, swept all that aside.
Next, they said Obama might have won among Democrats, but no way, no how would an African-American be able to get enough support outside the party, and especially among the white working class (which overwhelmingly backed Hillary in virtually every primary battle). Apart from his skin pigment, there is a definite whiff of ‘radical’ about Obama. Though he’s been at pains to pretend otherwise, he does appear to actually relate to and care about the tremendous inequality in US society, including the newly pauperised lower middle classes, not to mention that country’s vast legion of uninsured working poor.
Given the likely grip the Democrats will now wield on both the Senate and House of Representatives, this places an incoming Democratic President in a position of tremendous power. Power to begin the long task of rescuing the US from the cul de sac into which it has been dragged by the failed neo-con “project” to engineer an altogether different America with a hard-wired permanent Republican majority.
America can and must do better, much better. Global efforts to confront and reverse the slide into ecological collapse have been neutered by the bullying and thuggery of Bush and his ‘our way or the highway’ diplomacy. Almost a decade has been lost, a period which has seen the publication of the IPCC‘s Third (2001) and Fourth Assessment (2007) Reports, which have mapped out in forensic detail the profound changes our planet is undergoing, and given red flag warnings of the points beyond which humanity dares not tread.
As if to rub our noses in it, Al Gore, winner of the popular vote in 2000 yet cheated when the Republican-dominated US Supreme Court suspended the Florida recount, emerges as the one politician on the planet who truly, utterly and totally ‘gets’ climate change. His landmark film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ changed the trajectory of world debate on global warming, while all the while shaming Bush and his cabal of flat-earthers.
To the handful of people still out there who think politics doesn’t matter, I offer two words: Bush–Gore. Or, more germanely, McCain–Obama. Any initial enthusiasm environmentalists may have had for John McCain (a senator with a genuine record on trying to address climate change) was swept away when Thatcher of Alaska was added to the Republican ticket. Palin may have delivered the required red meat for the redneck ‘base’ of the party, but at a price.
Her arrival put paid to McCain’s trump card, i.e that he represented a clean break from the utter failures of the Bush presidency. And that delivered many so-called Blue Dog Democrats as well as a good portion of independents into the Obama column. Will it be enough? In about 30 hours time, midnight on Tues 4th, the eastern state polls will close. The final polls on the west coast won’t close until around 4am Irish time on Wednesday morning.
Given the unreliability of exit polls in previous elections, it’s likely that quite a few OCD sufferers (this one included) will remain by our TV and laptop screens until dawn’s first light on November 5th. RTE’s Morning Ireland coverage kicks off at 6am, so it remains to be seen if things are still in the melting pot at that stage. If ever there was a year to kick the Republicans resoundingly out of power (Bush’s personal approval rating is the lowest Gallup have recorded of any president in 50 years) this is it.
But as Obama keeps reminding us, there’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip, so only a fool would call this until the Fat Lady has not just sung, but has taken her curtain calls, had her supper, got a taxi home and is safely tucked up in bed. Only then could we say, and for once without the usual irony: ‘Mission Accomplished’.