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

Metail Ltd: Business Development Manager for Asia Pacific

£35,000 - £40,000 based on experience : Metail Ltd: As a Business Development ...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Owner

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product ...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - £17,000 Basic, OTE Uncapped

£17000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company are looking for a S...

Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line Technical Analyst

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 1st / 2nd Line Technical Anal...

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

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate