American Heroes

18 Oct



American Heroes.


Well what can I say.

Martha Raddatz you are a hero.

This is what journalism used to be like. No sarcasm, no innuendo, no begging the question, no trying to impress the audience with longwinded rhetoric; rather there were searching, pertinent, succinct questions based on, ummm what were those tools that journalists lecturers used to go on and on about???

Ah yes! Research and objectivity!!!!!

And now a confession. Hopeless psephologist that I am and as riveting as I find political races, even in countries where I can never hope to have any direct influence, there are some things I cannot bear to watch. These include proudly and appallingly biased commentary and coverage, (let’s call it, I dunno, F O X ). It includes advertisements that depend on inciting hatred, fear, bigotry and mediocrity and advertisements that  draw on patriotism and individual morality  at the expense of a candidate’s vision that is well founded and based on logic and benevolence.

And for this reason, I have another hero.

Jon Stewart you are a god!!

The Daily Show has served as my window, guide and much needed light relief for this year’s Presidential race. His ten minutes of edited and representative views of the most bizarre offerings of the day tell me all I want to know if not all I need to know. They are accompanied by witty and erudite commentary, they make me laugh and they make me reflect on what is at once the absurdity and the heroism of democracy in practise.

Hey we know it isn’t perfect, it’s subject to the forces of money and influence and lobbying and agendas about which most of us have no knowledge. But on November 6th, the American suffrage will exercise its right and its duty and take some responsibility (or not) for the kind of place it wants America to be. Not a shot will be fired in anger, no generals will be taken out and executed for not doing the bidding of their CIC, voters will not be harassed or their families threatened for failing to vote one way or the other. If there is a change, it will happen in an orderly and preordained manner. The American people will be deemed to have spoken. The victor will give a gracious speech and thank his opponent for his public service; the loser will wish the victor well.  That is how we do things in a polite and civilized society.

Now let me be upfront.

I want Obama to win. It’s not so much that I remain caught up in the euphoria around his initial victory. Honestly I felt a little ambivalent about that. As a woman just shy of 60 I would have liked to have seen what Hillary might have done had her party and her country given her the chance. However I put those concerns to one side and travelled to the US for the nation wide party that was the inauguration of 2008. Emotions were high, palpable and yes it did feel like for a few days at least we were part of history.

And this election, well I’m sorry, but Mitt   (is that really his name?), well he just reminds me far too much of that kind of two-dimensional perfectly coiffed middle-aged actor in those 50s and 60s ads that tried to sell us stoves, washing detergents and cleaners. You know the ones; there’s a family with an apron-clad mother who looks like she’s just come from a Marie Claire cover shoot. She is proudly yet modestly bearing a steaming casserole to a dining table in a room straight out of Home Beautiful; there are children sitting obediently, respectful, immaculate and loving and they are all anticipating the culinary delight that Mom has been able to conjure without getting a hair or a nail out of place.

As for Dad, well he just sits there at the top of the table looking lovingly at his domestic goddess in the glow of this perfect scene of familial heaven that his honest endeavours have been able to bring about.   (He no doubt is also thinking about the woman she will transform into after she has washed the dishes, bathed the kids, read them bedtime stories, made sure she has pressed his clean clothes for the morning and changed into a garment that will present her as something between Aphrodite and Martha from the Old Testament;  but that’s another piece of writing for another day).

Anyway, that’s who Mitt feels like to me and it’s just a little creepy.

And another thing, “ I have spent my life in private enterprise”, he trumpets,  “not in government”.  Really? What was that Governership of Massachusetts about??  A diversion while you got on with the more important business of making money? And even if it was true is it really a recommendation? Can you run a country as if you were a CEO, can you understand that big government spending, even debt, and a nation’s welfare are not mutually exclusive?

I doubt it and worse my colours are showing.

As I watch the debates I realise what a monumental effort it is to be re-elected.

The incumbent carries all the glory and all the grime of his term and hopefully there is more of the former than the latter. He can promise to try to do better and that is all. The other guy can criticize and dissect every utterance, every action, every single thing that has occurred in the preceding four years. He can promise lower taxes, improved and expanded services and a more competent administration (as this present candidate has) and nothing will change, not one single benefit or service will disappear; and he can throw in a rocket trip to the moon for good measure. If the nation is in a mood for change then he stands a good chance of being elected.

The last fickle hand of this sometimes-splendid system is that both men have to rely on their supporters to care enough to get out of the front door on Election Day. (I haven’t touched on the vagaries of the Electoral College and the cynical attempts by some States to deny carefully targeted constituents the right to vote; again, another day, another blog.)

I guess I can grin and bear it if Romney wins. He’s probably not a bad person, but my question is, is he good enough?

And what about the ummm M word… dare I go there?

My but America has come a long way. A black family in the White House, and now maybe one of Jo Smith’s followers, ( “Jo Smith”, the irony is … well I just can’t find that adjective.)

One day the US will have the collective will to put a woman there, not just in the annex but actually in the big seat. Trouble is, I reckon they might wait a while to find another one as good as Hillary, regrettably most of them turn out to be like Margaret Thatcher, just as ruthless and just as willing to become removed from their constituents.

In the meantime like Sisyphus, we will watch and wait and whatever our mode of prayer is, we will engage in it.

And if Romney wins? Well it won’t keep me away from a country I love more every time I visit. Its contradictions and its diversity are what makes it the intriguing and compelling place it is … and … there’s always The Daily Show.









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