Tuesday, 6 November 2012

#US2012 - let's let them decide, eh?

I'll admit that I haven't been following the 2012 US Presidential Elections as closely I would normally have liked.  I've been very busy, an' all that...

What's really irritated me, though, is the rather pious nature of the interest by almost all the other British politicos I know, or know of.  Throughout the past few days, as the campaigning in America has reached fever pitch, I've seen countless posts on Facebook and Twitter from British people, saying things like "good luck, America - remember to do the right thing!"

What the hell does that even mean - "do the right thing"?!  This is an election, not a math(s) exam - there's no right or wrong answer.

In general, people urging Americans to "do the right thing" mean "make sure you vote for Obama, not Romney."  The consensual populist view seems to be that Barack Obama is the "good guy" while Mitt Romney is the "baddie".

In my opinion, it is wrong, and indeed rather dangerous, to distil an election such as this down to a simply questions of "good vs bad".  Politics is so incredibly subjective, and there are so many different factors which can influence a person's political view, that this overly simplistic take on the proceedings just does not work.

I think that for political commentators (especially non-American commentators) to characterise voting for Obama as the "right choice" and voting for Romney as the "wrong choice" is actually quite insulting.  I respect the right of these people to prefer Obama to Romney, but to say that those who prefer Romney, and vote according to that preference, are wrong to do so is ridiculous.

If an American citizen genuinely feels that they identify more with the policies of Mitt Romney than those of Barack Obama, and that citizen accordingly goes out and votes for Romney, they have not done anything "wrong".  Quite the opposite, in fact - they have voted according to their principles, in a democratic election, which is exactly what you're meant to do.

As I said right at the start of this post, I know embarrassingly little about the policies, or indeed the politicians themselves, involved in this campaign.  I am not saying that I prefer either candidate to the other, and I'm certainly not giving my official endorsement to either (I know how influential this Blog can be in the world of American politics).  All I am saying is that if somebody has voted according to their conscience in a free and fair election, you cannot lambast them for having done anything wrong; their only crime is to have a political view which differs from yours, and to have voted according to their own beliefs.  I don't see how you can complain about that.

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