Is it sad that I find the US elections so enthralling?

This obsession with the Obama vs Romney contest can't hide the fact its outcome will make little difference over here

Share
Related Topics

Try to imagine it happening with a German election. British amateur psephologists are agog at the news that polls in six key battleground constituencies have shown a half-point shift in favour of Angela Merkel's CDU. Newspapers are dispatching their third or fourth local correspondents to take the temperature in Westphalia. The London Twitterati are getting into heated debates about exactly what Peer Steinbruck really thinks about social security. Everyone is an expert.

It's an absurd scenario. And yet if you transpose the scene to the United States, it's just normal. It's the same every election cycle. I don't say all this with any sense of superiority; more as someone who is shamefully, and yet excitedly, complicit. I love American politics. And I am a complete idiot for being so obsessed with it.

The final debate was a case in point. It makes me anxious to think how many people I know who stayed up to watch it live, for basically no reason. But look at its real consequences. For all their posturing, the meaningful differences between Romney and Obama, at least insofar as they will apply to life over here, were pretty narrow. Except as a story in need of a satisfying conclusion, it doesn't really matter to us who wins. And that's if you're confining things to foreign policy, where our interests are at least somewhat at stake. It's when we start to think about things like healthcare, or Super PAC attack ads in Florida, that it gets really nuts.

These matters aren't really for anyone but Americans to get excited about. You might argue, I suppose, that the obsession comes from a general interest in the good of mankind everywhere. But if that was the case, why don't we ever give a monkey's about Canada, or Guatemala? And if it's supposed to be because America's economy is so important, where was the laser focus on France, when the Eurozone lynchpin held a critically important presidential election earlier this year?

No, it's pretty clear what the real reasons are: a nice, simple two-candidate face-off, presentable to many British addicts in straightforward enough terms of good guy vs bad guy; a language we speak; a habit of mind engendered by American dominance in every sphere of our cultural life. Whether it's a habit shared quite to the same extent by the general public is less clear; I suspect, for the most part, that they take a more sensible view.

I wish I shared it. The trouble is, I can't break my addiction. I mean, this stuff is thrilling. Did you see the latest Gallup numbers from Ohio?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Head of Marketing - Pensions

£65000 - £75000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

SEN (Visual Impairement) Tutor

£120 - £180 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are looki...

School Receptionist

£70 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: School Receptionist - Part ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

A long way to go before we reach Dave Eggers's digital dystopia

Memphis Barker
 

August catch-up: dress to impress, words to use more often, and the end of the internet

John Rentoul
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis