November 12, 2012

VIEW FROM AWAY: US election stirs Brits' democratic instincts

London Evening Standard

Barack Obama has crowned his re-election with a victory speech that embodied all his old, inspirational rhetoric.

"We are an American family and we rise and fall together," he declared. Yet the invocation of a nation united despite its differences is at odds with the bitterness of the campaign and the closeness of the outcome.

This vote was an affirmation of U.S. democracy.

Obama in his victory speech reminded us that this election was all about the power of citizens to bring about change. It's easy to forget that politics is about big things. The campaign was often negative but the parties did address, head on, very important issues about the role of the state and the way government should respond to economic challenges.

Defeat for the Republicans on such fundamental issues does not bode well for the party: there is likely to be fierce debate now about where it goes next.

The one dispiriting aspect of this election was the cost. It was the most expensive in history, at around $2.6 billion.

But a great thing about any U.S. election is that it reawakens our own democratic instincts. The razzmatazz that Americans bring to the campaigns may be different from our approach but it is still infectious.

A presidential election is a great democratic event -- for them and for us.

-- London Evening Standard, Nov. 7

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