Black and White: American Roulette

With a considerable change of time zone, there it began D-Day in the USA.
After an election campaign, which had reduced the distance between the two candidates, Obama and Romney, the Election Day had come, election that will change or not the fate of a country and of the entire world. Because, either we like to admit it or not, the United States chooses every four years the leader of the world.

All the more, the electors have a huge responsibility. The destiny of a geopolitical relationship globally extended is in their power to decide. I’ve no idea if the Americans electors realize this responsibility they have. I don’t know if the selfish nature that’s specific for the American society is also reflected in their political choices, choices that have the mission to change (or not) the world future every four years.

America is a model of an (almost) ideal democracy. It is everything that we, states of the old communist confederacy, haven’t got in the shadow/darkness years. Maybe this is the reason why, more than any other state of the world, we are looking at the ‘All Possibilities Land’ with different eyes, a land that is hard to reach for an ordinary Romanian. But there are a lot of Romanians that arrived and lived in the US. Some of them came back, some of them didn’t. For those who remained here, the wish to understand the American electoral system it’s above any superficiality barrier of journalism. Often, Romanian media analysts are talking about an electoral system of o country they never had the chance to ‘test’.

That’s why today, in the most rousing political day of the American states, we asked Brian Wilkes, American journalist, to help us decode the electoral system, 2012 elections and the fight that decides the world leader every four years.

Brian Wilkes is a former news anchor, news director, and newspaper editor in the US. He has been covering presidential elections since 1972.

Attempting explain the US Presidential election system for a largely foreign audience …

In 1789, the United States was a reluctant alliance of former British colonies. Since the federal system might not work, each state continued doing business as if it was an independent country. The smaller states – Delaware, New Hampshire – didn’t want to see the larger states dominate the new alliance, so they came up with a system to slow down the process.

State legislatures held most of the power. Until the 20th century, US Senators were elected, not by the people, but by the legislatures. The House of Representatives was and is elected by popular vote.


American voters today may think they are voting for the president, but they are really voting for a group of „electors” pledged to that candidate for a first ballot of the Electoral College, which meets December 17. The electors are chosen and certified by the states.

In some states, whichever candidate wins the popular vote is assigned ALL that state’s electors. In other states, it breaks down according to results in each Congressional district.
On top of that, there is a patchwork of varying rules for voter registration and eligibility, since each of the 50 states sets its own rules.

In my own case, I recently moved from Kentucky, a strongly Republican state, to Illinois, a more Democratic state and President Obama’s home. Because I do not have enough of the right documentation yet to prove my residence in Illinois, I cannot vote here. Technically, I can no longer vote in Kentucky, either. One votes as a citizen of a state, not as a citizen of the United States; we actually don’t have national elections, we have 50 state-managed presidential elections occurring on the same day.

Confused yet? Now I’ll explain why it actually doesn’t matter that I’m not voting.
In Kentucky, Mitt Romney is expected to win by 20 points. My vote there won’t change the outcome. In Illinois, Barack Obama is expected to win by 20 points. My vote here won’t affect that outcome. So I’m sitting back and observing.

One of the cynics of the last century said that America does not have religious freedom, we have an uneasy truce between many faiths, each of which wants to declare a religious dictatorship. One of the most militant historically has been the Mormon of LDS Church, for whom Mitt Romney has been a missionary and bishop. If he wins, he will not only be the first Mormon but the first clergyman to become president.

Mormons have been in armed conflict several times:
§ 1838 Mormon War (aka Missouri Mormon War), a conflict in 1838 between Latter Day Saints and their neighbors in northwestern Missouri
§ Illinois Mormon War, a conflict in 1844–1846 between Latter Day Saints and their neighbors in western Illinois
§ Utah War, a conflict in 1857–1858 between Latter Day Saints in Utah Territory and the United States federal government. In this period, they were also involved in massacres of Native Americans and of wagon trains of settlers crossing their territory to reach California.

What’s strange is that the religious right wing has embraced Romney, although most would also call him a heretic or cultist. Why? They are more uncomfortable with Barack Obama.
Obama is a bi-racial, US-born citizen who spent part of his childhood with a step-family in Indonesia. To hear his detractors, he is a foreign-born Muslim with a secret agenda to impose Sharia law. This election has revealed the depth of lingering American racism, religious bigotry, homophobia and xenophobia. He is racist America’s nightmare: a black man with an Ivy League education, a law degree, who can call in nuclear strikes and predator drones.
The fear-mongers have worked overtime on this election. Two weeks ago, it looked like Mitt Romney might actually win. Then Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, and President Obama’s response demonstrated the leadership some had feared was missing. The governor of New Jersey and the mayor of New York, both Republicans, had kind words and even endorsements. It also brought back unpleasant memories of Republican President George W. Bush’s mishandling of the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and statements by candidate Romney that he would cut or eliminate funding for the very agencies responding to help storm victims.

It will be a close election. Barack Obama can blame himself for that, especially for not prosecuting the Neo-Cons responsible for deceiving us into two needless wars or the banksters responsible for the greatest financial disaster since 1929. Many who voted for him were convinced he would bring them to trial, and felt betrayed when he didn’t.

The tiny village of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire traditionally gathers just after midnight on election day to cast their ballots. Their results are usually a good indicator of the national results. This year, there were only 10 voters, the lowest turnout since 1960 – perhaps an indication of how disgusted Americans are with this campaign. Each candidate won 5 votes.
We hope this doesn’t indicate another long 2000-style battle over election results.

Un gând despre „Black and White: American Roulette

  1. Pingback: Alb si negru la Ruleta Americana « Lora Matei

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