How Brits like me are watching the 2008 election

My fellow Brits and I, have really made an effort to stay up to speed with the candidates in the 2008 presidential race.

For me, it all began when I was living in the States, so the first stint was somewhat coloured by the version of events CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN wanted me to see and hear. None of these supposedly independent sources could get a cigarette paper between their differences on each of the so-called early front runners, all of whom, with the exception of Clinton, are now out of the race.

FOX, of course, was a different matter – but I should imagine, or at least hope beyond hope, that only a tiny minority of Americans seriously thought Paris Hilton stood much of a chance at being nominated.

Since getting back in the UK, however, I’ve had a much wider pallet of information, not least being because I now have working internet (long time readers might recall my horror at what AT&T California consider to be an acceptable service). That and the fact that dear old Aunty BBC has a much better service in her home nation than she does overseas, has enabled me to see how certain events in the race, would come across very differently, were I watching them on the other side of the pond.

The BBC’s flagship nightly news magazine program Newsnight (which my American chums can stream via the website) is, despite the outward appearance of being neutral, clearly angling for an Obama democratic nomination. Not least because of the focus on economic news which dominates the agenda in the UK.

For too long now we’ve had better growth rates than the entire rest of the developed world and, being a race of pessimists, there’s a general air of apprehension that it can’t last for long, especially if McCain’s only opposition ends up being a woman who lies more than her husband. Another republican in the White House would be disastrous for home owners, service families and commuter drivers in the non-voting 51st State of the Union.

Newsnight, so much is their focus on economic matters, failed almost entirely to mention the misconstrued comments by Obama’s pastor, which have played out on the US networks – of which I am only aware thanks to the millions of bytes of blog tube opinions on the debacle. Not that they have entirely ignored it, but religion is such an American issue here, that it almost goes without saying that “those wacky yanks” have to get it off their chest now and then, while we potter along, happily headed towards an increasingly secular society.

Clinton’s image in the UK has gone from being untouchable; “wouldn’t it be great if we had a female president”, to “Oh my, what is she saying? That’s a lie! Let’s hope they don’t vote for her” in a very short period of time.

Hillary was interviewed by the Brit TV equivalent of Regis and Kelly, the married couple talk show hosts, Richard & Judy – only a few weeks before announcing her intention to run for the democratic nomination. The sun was quite literally shining out of her arse the next day, in the UK press. A R&J interview is guaranteed to get whatever is being promoted by the interviewee either a best selling book or a highly rated TV show; but I would doubt there is very much she could do now to turn around the British opinion of her, as being a manipulative liar.

McCain is almost completely unknown here. I would doubt you could walk down the high-street of an average town in an average county and get an accurate description of who he is from an average person. His war record, his position on Iraq / Iran, his “100 years” comment – almost all of the news we get on this guy is from the intertubes; and as a consequence is usually biased towards those with a liberal agenda (as-in the US definition of the word, as opposed to the European one, meaning open minded).

What I have yet to see from any of the people who will one day become president, is an open attitude towards people who believe in freedom from religion. Each of them are happy to make comments which are decidedly open to interpretation, like their “personal relationship to god”, but reluctant to say anything about how this actually boils down; such as how it informs their opinion on cell mutation and defining the moment a Blastula becomes capable of experiencing pain; or the independently corroborative evidence from both the fossil and the genetic inheritance record, that life on Earth in considerably older than the evangelical vote is prepared to admit.

This is an on-going blog thread for me and I would hope that my next mention of it, follows some real dialogue between whoever gets the democratic nomination and McCain, on the teaching of science in schools. I’d also like to hear more on the role Obama would have Al Gore play in tackling climate change – the US being now the only major industrialised nation on Earth not to sign the Kyoto protocol.

As a non-American, what do you want your next president to talk about more?


2 comments on “How Brits like me are watching the 2008 election

  1. I want a dialogue on how the economy is increasingly rewarding the rich; how consumerism out of control is not the way to create a healthy economy; how a safety net in the form of decent health care, education and social services is as vital to everyday life as clean drinking water and sewers; how the environment needs to be respected, and dependence on fossil fuel must come to an end; and a continued discussion on racial polarization such as Obama started in his speech last month.For starters.

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