Forward to the past

This time last year I was just starting to rekindle my interest in the US presidential elections, having gone off the process a bit after my favoured candidate, Hillary Clinton, failed to clinch the Democratic nomination. At that time it looked as though the race could be uncomfortably close, but that was before the Republicans unveiled their secret weapon, VP-nominee Sarah Palin, and the world breathed a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that Obama had it in the bag.

Ms Palin has been back in the news this month, having decided that staying on to complete the job she was elected to do in Alaska would be the “quitter’s way out”, and that she would show she was no quitter by, er, quitting. Now that she no longer has the tiresome responsibility of looking after the wellbeing of her constituents, she is free to start building her campaign for 2012.

It amazes me that anyone in the US, even those on the right, could think that Palin is the best shot the GOP has at regaining the White House, especially after the drubbing they received back in November. The one thing sure to keep the coalition that swept Obama to power together is the sort of intolerant social conservatism that may play well to the ever-shrinking right-wing base, but just alienates the rest of the population.

The Democrats would be much more vulnerable to the sort of fiscally conservative/socially liberal approach that’s being peddled by David Cameron and the Conservatives here in the UK. In a depression no one cares too much about gay marriage or abortion; they’re too busy worrying about losing their jobs and their homes.

I guess the Democratic and Republican strategists will be waiting to see how the election here works out, when it finally comes. It seems sure to be fought on economic rather than social issues. I think that there will be a real divide between the main parties this time around, with Labour proposing a continuation of deficit-funded government spending, which will, theoreticaly, kick-start the growth that will eventually pay off the national debt, while the Conservatives will be offering painful public sector cuts now with the promise of better times in the future. It’s difficult to see a Labour victory though, since the mood of the country, like the US last year, is for change, unsurprising when one considers the economic mess we are in.

Obama doesn’t seem to be making much headway in tackling the financial crisis; there’s every chance that come 2012 he could lose to a Republican candidate promising small goverment and a balanced budget. With Cameron in charge over here it will be the Reagan/Thatcher years all over again.

On second thoughts, maybe a Palin candidacy wouldn’t be so bad…

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