i Editor's Letter: Obsess about US politics


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The Independent Online


Archie Bland wrote a column for i recently in which he confessed to being a total junkie for US politics, entirely obsessed with tomorrow's election. Some of you bristled at the idea, because you resent the notion of Britain being obsessed with any other country's politics or culture. Why, asked Archie, aren't we just as obsessed with Germany? It was a rhetorical question.

Although we obsess about the US, the harsh truth is America does not reciprocate. Oh sure, a sizeable, relatively wealthy minority of its 315 million population love to visit Europe and Britain in particular. And, most Americans would be able to name Britain as the US's best friend in a hostile world. But, let's be clear, for all the "America deserves better leaders" editorials on this side of the pond, no one on their side will be reading.

They really don't care what we think about what happens there. This applies to everything from gun control (or the lack of) to obesity, the death penalty to healthcare, corporate greed to carbon emissions, and Guantanamo Bay.

This week's election will not, of course, be decided by foreign policy – Bin Laden's death and the Libya embassy debacle notwithstanding. The words "it's the economy, stupid" have haunted every presidential election since Bill Clinton used them successfully to unseat George Bush (the elder) in 1992. But, clichés have that annoying habit of being based in truth.

And so it is that Barack Obama remains far more popular abroad, where many of us view him for the hope he still represents rather than what he has actually achieved. In this regard he is like our own Mr Blair and Mrs Thatcher, and quite unlike hapless Mitt Romney, whose summer tour to these shores and others was pretty much disastrous. The point is, it didn't matter. Not in the slightest. Whichever candidate should win this week, our opinion will have been irrelevant. Limeys don't get to vote.

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