Obama was successful. Congratulations to CU who told us all before the day that the race wasn't even close at all and no matter what the media were saying. Obama was a certainty to be President. Cityunslicker was right and Obama is.
The Americans have a mad system of government. The President is supreme in his power yet he may not control the senate or the House and so may never pass any new statutes or amendments at all.
Each state has a block of votes to allocate solely to one candidate, and count their votes by many different methods and operate all manner of different systems. America is nothing like the UK, even though we often think it is. Its much more like Europe. A great diverse collection of states with their own priorities and religions and ethnic mixes.
But one thing the USA could learn from the UK is how to do not being in government. consider the crazy idea the US has of holding primaries. What a dumb idea this is. Only 8-9 months before the election did the Republicans consider choosing a leader. How much time does that give the choice to make an impact? Virtually none. What brief do they have? What knowledge of what's been going on? What recognition do they have by the voting public?
The new challenger to the President has to start from near zero and come up with a whole raft of credible, measured, tested proposals in a matter of weeks. its near impossible.
Not only that but in order to become the hopeful to be president, they have to fight all the other hopefuls along the way. They have to publicly rip the guts out of each other candidate. they have to discredit them utterly. Destroy them completely in the eyes of the voters. They must use every political trick in the book. As Mr Burns' political adviser said
"this is your your muck-raker, your character assassin, your mud slinger and your garbologist."
Every indiscretion from the silliest unpaid parking fine to multiple affairs is revealed. Health records are examined for weakness. Family members are checked for loonies and crooks. All the candidates do this to each other. And with their own cash too! And this goes on for months and months in each state. From January to June all ready for the big election in November.
At the end the Darwinian process has weeded out the weak and left only the strong. But of course it has made them terribly weak. Every possible bad thing about them is now known to the voters of the USA. Every attack they made to rid themselves of a rival is also known. open politics in its rawest form.
And this is the short version. There are actually primaries and caucuses and binding and non-binding and open and closed and conventions and rallies and the state is electing delegates not potential presidents.
At the end of it all the nominee is a battered and bruised husk that has already campaigned hard for 6 months and is exhausted and exposed. They have made every crazy promise under the sun to every special interest group in every state. They are left facing in more directions, and making more impossible pledges than a Liberal Democrat. Their party is angered over not getting a centrist or a Tea Partyer. Not getting the right ethnically mixed or right religion, or right gender challenger.
All the while the incumbent President has been elected unopposed to stand again, with the full backing of a united party. They can sit in the White House spending money or pledging to spend money on special interests, minority programs and the key marginal states.
Imagine if Ed Miliband had had to fight for his nomination in every county in the UK. If he had to campaign for 6 months on the issues that effected his party. He would have had to have come out strongly for the unions. Strongly for the muslim vote. Strongly in favour of immigration and Europe and green issues and women's rights and public servants getting more pay and ending Trident and opening up coal mines and never once mentioning a cut to a penny of spending.
The non Labour party voters would think him a communist. Or a crank. Or out of touch.
All the while he was being attacked by his other rivals for power. The right wing newspapers kicking at him as well as the left wing ones being fed endless stories to discredit him and promote some other in his place.
He emerges as leader with just 5 months to form a credible front bench, manifesto and election strategy. All the public knows of him is he used to be in Gordon Brown's cabinet, stabbed his brother in the back,, had his appendix out privately, drives a non electric car and always looks a bit like he's about to say "Wensleydale!"
After 1 year in opposition Ed Miliband was in danger of being slung out he was so ineffective. It took him another year to find his feet and even get into the game.
And the US elections are personal elections. The voters are picking a person they rate as much as a party. How that person looks and sounds and how much charisma trust and charm they have is very important. To leave the choice of candidate to weeks before the election is utter, utter madness.
No wonder they have that law that the president can only stand for two terms.
Otherwise they'd never leave.