Well, the primaries anyway.
I’ve tried. Not hard but I have tried to follow and get an interest. But somehow it just seems to be missing something for me – probably the tension of a real political battle.
I’m not sure why this is – maybe there are too many candidates? With a few exceptions we are used to one-against-one leadership elections in the UK which for all its faults at least draws clear lines for battle.
Maybe it is the lack of a real ideological divide between the candidates or even a split over key issues?
Watching other countries’ elections is rather like attending a football match when your team isn’t playing and you don’t know much about either side. Its much more fun if you adopt a team and invest something in the event. But I can’t generate much enthusiasm for any of the Democrats? Nor any antipathy either.
British Spin has been watching CNN and has some scathing comments on the American coverage. I saw only a short amount of Fox News (alwys more fun than CNN) but it wasn’t that different from what Spin describes:
I was struck by two things. First, despite the sheer number of commentators and experts, (I counted about 15) very little was added to the sum of human wisdom. The polling expert basically just said “Kerry wins amongst those who are looking for an electable candiate” all night and one of the main “experts” simply said “Edwards needed to win in South Carolina and he has” the whole time.
Despite two “real people round tables” designed to focus on issues the commentators went straight back to the horse race, and discussed that in only the most vapid terms. This blandness and lack of content meant that despite the graphics and the number of spokesmen, the BBC’s general election coverage from 1964 was more exciting than this.
But even if American media paid a bit more attention to what the public want out of political broadcasting (some idea of the choices they will have to make rather than the cliquey, mediacentric coverage of gaffes, positioning, campaign tactics and techniques) I am still not sure it would be that interesting.
Which is odd because it is, of course, a hugely important political process. Sure, everyone knows that Howard Dean is the anti-war candidate but somebody tell me why should I have any more sympathy for Kerry than for Edwards?
Or am I missing something here?
Perhaps it is not surprising that a political system that requires a downpayment of several million dollars before you can become a serious candidate lacks real diversity among candidates.
I mean who would we end up with in Britain if you had to be a millionairre before you could be a candidate to lead a party?