Least-Worst One Wins

Officially less worse than Mitt Romney
Officially less worse than Mitt Romney

Barack Obama has been re-elected after one of the tightest Presidential polls in recent decades. More importantly, the highest, most devastatingly powerful office in the land has been defended from a blank, asset-stripping plutocrat who dismisses 47% of the American population as feckless welfare-scroungers.

The 44th President of the United States has essentially governed like an old-school moderate Republican. His agenda might’ve been blasphemous to the foaming loons of the American Right, but, in reality, Obamacare is watery, limited and corporate-friendly, his tax rises have just corrected the libertarian madness of the Bush years, and he’s continued to bunker-bust, extraordinarily render and predator drone like the best of them.

And yet, for millions on both sides of the pond, this was an election all about keeping out Mitt Romney. When old-school moderate Republicanism has all but dried up, and America remains the glowering capital of neoliberal dystopias, Obama is not only infinitely preferable to the rabid Tea Partying alternative, but, short of reanimating Mother Jones and convincing her to run for office, the least-worst Commander In Chief the US is likely to produce in decades. Continue reading

Republican Primaries: The End (essentially)

mitt-romney-1

Mitt Romney

The good news for world-weary Americans is that the Republican primaries are effectively over. The bad news is that the Republican primaries aren’t officially over for another four months – the last state, Utah, doesn’t to go the polls until June the 26th.

Former Massachusetts governor and consistent front-runner Mitt Romney has all but won his party’s Presidential nomination. At this stage, it would be nigh-on impossible for any of the other contenders to beat him to the official candidacy and go on to face Barack Obama in November.

Superficially at least, recent primary results make the race look misleadingly open – this month alone hard-right social conservative Rick Santorum has won seven. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to the total number of state delegates each candidate receives. With four months to go, Romney has secured an unassailable lead, his 568 more than double that of Santorum’s 273, and dwarfs the totals of both Newt Gingrich (135) and Ron Paul (50). Continue reading

Digested: Maine, Nevada, Colorado and Minnesota – the Republican Primaries

As the year goes on and the primary race becomes progressively frenzied, our tentative attempts at coverage are going to have to be scaled back a bit.

We’re getting to the stage where multiple contests are being held on the same day – February the 7th saw Coloradoan and Minnesotan Republicans head for their nearest voting booth, and March will bring Super Tuesday, the day when 11 states all vote at once. The Maine Caucuses, stretched across a week from the 4th to the 11th of February, eventually resulted in a narrow win for the Romney camp. Republican renegade Ron Paul drew significant support from libertarian-leaning Mainers, and came within 194 votes of snatching victory – impressive, but still disappointing for his supporters since some had predicted Maine was the one state Dr Paul could win outright.

That said, doubts have been cast as to the validity of the results – bad weather meant that not all of the state’s electoral precincts meant that only 84% of districts were represented in the official results. Some, especially in the Paul camp, are agitating for all districts to be taken into account, meaning that there is still chance for a last-minute upset particularly given the closeness of the final result – Romney got 39.2% of the vote, with Paul close behind on 35.7%.

The Nevada Caucuses, held on February the 4th, provided Romney with an easy win. The large Nevadan Mormon community turned out in force to support their brother in Christ – 25% of caucus goers were Mormons. The result was an unquestionable 50.1% victory for the Romney camp – he indisputably walks away the winner, but since Nevada’s 28 delegates are distributed based on a candidate’s share of the votes cast, Gingrich and Paul, second and third respectively, don’t leave empty-handed. 

Come February the 7th, though, Romney’s fortunes nose-dived. Up until then, discomfort about his perceived centrism was certainly palpable amongst the Republican rank and file, but hadn’t stopped the seeming inevitability of him slowly but steadily riding to victory. Throughout the contest so far he’s frequently looked and sounded like he’d been named the party’s official Presidential candidate already.

But in Colorado and Minnesota, he was unexpectedly bested by the socially conservative former Senator for Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, despite entering both confident of success. Santorum’s Colorado lead was small – 40.3% to Romney’s 34.9% – but Minnesota brought the added humiliation of seeing the former frontrunner pushed into third place behind Santorum and Paul. Santorum won with 44.9% of the vote, Paul came second with 27.1%, with Romney trailing in third with 16.9%, his lowest vote share of the contest so far.

Mitt Romney is still the most likely Republican to end up facing Barack Obama in a full-blown Presidential election come November. What recent events have demonstrated is that winning that official Republican seal of approval is probably going to be a far choppier ride than Romney himself and a lot of political commentators had expected.

Digested: The New Hampshire Primary

Last Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary left Mitt Romney the victor by a comfortable margin, surely reassuring for the frontrunner after he barely scraped a win over surging social conservative Rick Santorum back in Iowa.

The fate of the aforesaid Senator Santorum nicely demonstrates how mercurial the primaries can be, especially at the beginning – strong second in Iowa, Santorum floundered in fifth in liberal New Hampshire, berated for his hard-line opposition to gay marriage. The result gives Romney a commanding lead. Like Iowa, New Hampshire doesn’t yield that many delegates to victorious candidates – the Romney camp has only secured 20 from two successive wins (a candidate needs 1,144 to secure the nomination). Continue reading

Digested: The Republican Presidential Candidates

So far, the Republican presidential race has been characterised by the fact that Mitt Romney is probably going to win, but that many rank-and-file Republicans are desperate for him not to.

Attempts to find a viable Anything But Romney candidate from among the other contenders have failed so far – each time one seems to surge ahead, usually resulting from a strong debate performance, it’s not long before gaffes, negative advertising or private life revelations have knocked them off their perch.

In a field dominated by the Republican hard-right, Romney’s a relative centrist, and the most able to win over middle-of-the-road voters who have become disillusioned with Obama. As far as winning round the rank-and-file is concerned, his Mormonism has drawn hostility from the highly influential evangelical Christian demographic – many evangelicals don’t see Mormons as ‘proper’ Christians – as have his flip-flopping views on issues like abortion and gay marriage. Expect him to continue tacking right as the contest progresses to try and win their support, and, if nominated, choose a notable social conservative as his Vice Presidential candidate to compensate for his lack of right-wing credentials –balancing the ticket’ in US political jargon. Continue reading

Digested: The Republican Primaries (so far)

republican-presidential-candidatesAmerican politics is especially painful for non-Americans, seeing as though we have to deal with its far-reaching fallout while having no say whatsoever in what happens.

In a sane world, the citizens of earth would all get a vote in November’s presidential election – who wins has the potential to drastically affect all of our lives. Even with American military and economic clout palpably on the wane, the victor will unchallengeable remain the planet’s most powerful single individual. As it happens, we just have to sit and watch.

Now is a good time to start paying attention. The Republicans have started the slow process that will culminate in August’s National Convention in Tampa, Florida, where the Party officially chooses its Presidential candidate. Also, some of the Republican race’s zanier outliers have begun to drop out, meaning that a clearer picture of who will eventually face Obama is beginning to emerge. Continue reading

Republicans

Nerve-jangling political battles with massive global significance happen horribly frequently in America, and as 2012 begins, one of the scariest is showily grinding into action. The Republican Party has begun the process to select who will oppose Barack Obama in next winter’s presidential election.

From a leftist perspective, American politics is grim not just in being hawkish, dominated by money, and pathologically hostile to anything remotely socialistic, but also in the way successive governments have used their huge influence to spread this consensus around the world. And at its worst, American politics is Republican.

Effectively, the Democrats represent the equivalent of what most Europeans would see as mainstream politics, with a mildly social democratic left-wing and a socially and economically conservative Right – in American terms, the Democrats might be classed on the Left, but if all Tories were deported to America tomorrow we’d wager a large proportion would settle down as right-wing Dems rather than throw their lots in with the Sarah Palins of the world. Continue reading