“Sure, when the race gets going here …”

I’ve been asked quite a few times why I would bother with American politics. This question is followed up by a variety of statements, usually falling under the banner of either ‘It’s boring’ (I assume these people think politics, in general, are boring to talk about) or ‘You’re not American, and you have your own election coming up’. Both of these statements are true (though in the case of the first, it’s only sometimes true).

But there is something about the US’s process, and it’s importance, that makes it infinitely more interesting.

Yes, I’m Australian. Yes there’s going to be an election in November. Yes it’s going to be hotly contested. And yes, it’s likely to be one of the most important that I’ll see. But you know what? The lead-up is predictable. You know what Howard & Co. are going to come out and say in response to something the Kevin07 has said. And you know what will be said when the roles are reversed. Not to mention the campaign hasn’t even started yet.

That’s where my interest in the two systems is similar: I am really interested in the process once it’s started. The US system is bigger, grander, more extravegant and exciting. The Australian system is smaller, low-key, with less fanfare and has waves of excitement and plateus of boredom.

There’s been a dozen-or-so debates, for both teh Republicans and the Democrats, in their process thus far, with everyone trying to get the lead of their party. We know who is going to contest the next Australian election, so there’s none of those debates. And there’s how many between Howard & Co. and Kevin07 when we do get started? One whole?

Look at the ‘celebrities’ that are running in the primaries: Clinton, Obama, Guiliani, Thompson. Look at what we have: Howard, Costello, Rudd, Gillard. All great politicians, and some people there I want to vote for, but they aren’t as ‘interesting’ (political-wise) for me. I don’t need to figure out Rudd or Howard to know where they stand on x, y and z. But for the primaries, it’s like an unveiling or an expose of each candidate to discover what sort of politician they are.

And if you want to give a medal to some of the best politicians in the world (that is, reward the squirming, the hollow answers, the verbal escape routes, the meandering, and the attacking) then you have to give it to the Americans. While I give credit to our politicians for being slimy, the American politicians are a classier version of slimy. You can really see why people can believe and trust them, while here, you look at a politician on the TV and laugh, because you know that they are spinning something. And while the American politicians are spinning, they do it with a bit of grace and flare.

So, yeah, when our election is called and they race actually gets going, and debates and policies and polls start flooding the Intertubes, then I’ll write about it more. But American politics is still going to be my main interest. It’s got a lot more going for it, and being an ‘outsider’, I get to view things a bit more objectively. Now that I can’t say about Australian politics

Thomas.

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