By Lloyd James Robert Meikle
I have lost my internet quota several times in the past few weeks, and, before you ask, it wasn’t because of porn. There’s nothing I enjoy more than kicking back after a hard day’s procrastination to watch the latest US election-related videos. It’s an addiction and I should probably seek help, but there are so many twists and turns in this campaign that it’s hard not to watch. The cat-fighting between the Obama and McCain camps has been reminiscent of what one might expect backstage at a Spice Girls gig, but it’s understandable given how high the stakes are. The world’s financial systems are falling apart at the seams, Iraq is still a hell-hole – even though it doesn’t make the news anymore – millions of Americans remain uninsured and the world is generally a crappier place than it was when Bill Clinton left office at the start of 2001. I ran home from Friars a few weeks back to watch the first presidential debate (I’m that cool) and what I saw in that not entirely sober moment was a Barrack Obama who looked fresh, young, intelligent and, most importantly, presidential. The man standing next to him looked old, irritable and in need of a nap. Two debates have followed since, and Obama has universally been acknowledged as the winner in all three. As things stand, it would be remarkable if Obama didn’t win the election. The sitting Republican president is one of the most unpopular ever and his party colleague, John McCain, given the fact that he has supported Bush’s policies 90% of the time, represents more or less the same course for future American policy. So how could this election even be remotely close? It is at this stage that the gigantic elephant in the room makes its uncomfortable presence felt – race. South Africa and the United States both have centuries of racial baggage lying around, and I don’t care what the most liberal man on the street might say, it still matters. I spoke to an American friend of mine the other day and he made a valid point. When the average voter gets into the privacy of the polling booth, will he or she be able to swallow hard enough to vote for the black guy with a Muslim sounding name? It is a huge moment in the history of the United States of America. Can they put behind the legacy of slavery and segregation once and for all and entrust the highest office in the land to a man with darker skin than the previous 43 presidents? I think that they will. I’m putting my neck out here but I predict that Obama will win by a landslide on November 4th, with at least 300 electoral college votes. According to national polls, Obama has a healthy lead. Of course polls are inherently dodgy but there is always some truth to them. If Obama doesn’t win this one, I’ll cry myself to sleep to the sounds of Watershed. The stakes are that high. And, before you ask, I refuse to mention Sarah Palin in this article. Oh crap. She managed to sneak in.