One thing that has always impressed me about the American political system is the idea that the presidential campaign is a no-holds-barred battle for the hearts and minds of the US people, but once the votes have been counted (or recounted, or argued over in court), politicians and people unite behind the selected President. It’s a noble ideal that puts the country above party politics, and recognises that the President needs the support of those of all different political persuasions in order to be effective. And a long distance from the British system, which sees the sniping and undermining begin shortly after the new Prime Minister has finished his first egg and soldiers breakfast at 10 Downing Street.
As it turns out, the ideal and the reality are as far apart as Sarah Palin and ‘the ability to string a coherent sentence together’. Whether it’s his selection for attorney general, or his plans for tighter controls on the economy, the soon-to-be-President will by now have realised not only that the honeymoon’s over, but that his new family is apparently packed full of characters like crazy Uncle Bert and vindictive step-cousin Michelle.
The problem is, of course, that some people are sore losers, and it’ll take more than a few calls for national unity to get them to pick up the toys scattered around their metaphorical pram.
But while British losers tend to keep their mouths firmly shut for fear of coming across as bitter, it seems as if some people over here don’t care if people know they backed the wrong horse, however ridiculous it makes them sound.
Last week, the New York Young Republican’s Club held one of their last meetings prior to Obama’s inauguration on January 20. Seizing their opportunity to show that at least they weren’t the only ones to support John McCain, the New York Post gleefully reported on the sentiments of the young right wingers who think that the country got it wrong.
23-year-old Cathy Reno, for example, commented “I’m trying to savor the last days of capitalism” as she “bitterly sipped a three olive martini.” Presumably Daddy’s funds weren’t hit by the Madoff scandal, then? Jeff Miller, two years older but not two years wiser, said that he feared “a gross overreaction to the current economic issue,” and was “divesting all his equity before the capital gains tax goes up.” Poor old Jeff.
Villamor Asuncion showed that Dick Cheney can be a role model for young people, with his comment that he was “hiding all [his] guns where Barry can’t find them.” I assume that disheartened Villamor was referencing Barack Obama’s high school nickname, rather than expressing any latent fear that his munitions stockpile would disappear into Mr Manilow’s Bermuda Triangle.
Finally, grad student (possibly in knitting, rather than international diplomacy) Michael Pocelinko agreed with Villamor, saying “I’m buying as many guns as possible, and I’m enjoying the last days of national security while I can.” One can only hope that he’s heading off to his deep bunker in Idaho to see out the next
So, while the champagne corks (to be fair, it could be Sprite given the economic crisis) pop across America next week, spare a thought for the disheartened few in New York who will be working themselves up into a sweat come Tuesday. After all, that arsenal of ammunition and firepower won’t hide itself.