Today's letter from the Editor
Today's Matrices
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Archie Bland: We love a political thriller – if it doesn't need subtitles

It's an election that ought to be a blockbuster. It stars an ailing incumbent with a beautiful wife, swept into office by a wave of popular enthusiasm but now brought low by economic crisis despite his foreign policy victories.

Even though his weakness presents a vast political opportunity, circumstance and skulduggery have forced the opposition to lurch between preferred candidates, none of them quite ticking all the boxes in a way that would bring them decisively to power. And so, as the race really begins in earnest, it's simply too close to call.

The vote in question, of course, will take place not in the US but in France. And it will, indeed, be fascinating. What happens across the English Channel will, also almost certainly, make more of a difference to the fate of our own nation in the turbulent years ahead than what happens across the Atlantic. But we British don't really care that much about thrillers that need subtitles. Sarkozy or Hollande: who really cares? Obama or Romney, on the other hand: that's a race we can sink our teeth into.

It seems like everyone's an expert on US politics. I have friends who can barely name our Chancellor who have somehow developed a detailed posture on gerrymandering in the Illinois 4th congressional district. Twitter, likewise, will be overrun today by British armchair experts offering their take on the result of last night's Iowa caucus.

We treat the quadrennial presidential polls like the World Cup and the Olympics, picking a side and cheering it on mostly for the fun of it. The official reason is that the leader of the free world matters in a way no other politician really can outside their domestic political landscape, and it's a perfectly plausible argument, as far as it goes. But we all know that this isn't the whole story.

Anglo-Saxon and English-speaking biases aside, US politics has a whiff of Hollywood that simply cannot be matched elsewhere; for the majority of soft-centred British social liberals, the Bush era provided a satisfying narrative of good against evil that still pertains today. The red-meat debates in American politics, about issues long expired here, give us plenty to get outraged about when the managerialism of our own discourse gets a little dull.

Will this election retain its hold on our imagination to the end? With the lustre gone from Obama's halo, and the relatively moderate Romney likely to take the Republican nomination, you'd think we might be ready to refocus closer to home. In fact, of course, our interest will be as intense as ever. We won't pay attention to the policies once the presidency is decided, of course.

But in the meantime, once England get knocked out of the European football championship, there is only one contact sport that we'll be watching.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot