Why can't we vote for the US President?

And seeing as Iraq is under US occupation, the Iraqis should have a vote as well

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Surely the Americans didn't go to all that bother of fighting a war of independence just so they could indulge in this bollocks in New York. In 1775, the radical Tom Paine inspired the revolutionary American army with the lines: "These are the times that try men's souls, but the tougher the conquest, the more glorious the triumph.'' But there must have been another bit that went, "For the spirit of those who are slain shall be forever entrenched in the bosom of sickly-pure girls in spangly purple Lycra waving pom-poms and shrieking the names of doddery senators. That, my brethren, shall be just reward for our struggle.''

Surely the Americans didn't go to all that bother of fighting a war of independence just so they could indulge in this bollocks in New York. In 1775, the radical Tom Paine inspired the revolutionary American army with the lines: "These are the times that try men's souls, but the tougher the conquest, the more glorious the triumph.'' But there must have been another bit that went, "For the spirit of those who are slain shall be forever entrenched in the bosom of sickly-pure girls in spangly purple Lycra waving pom-poms and shrieking the names of doddery senators. That, my brethren, shall be just reward for our struggle.''

The American constitution is supposed to be a document oozing with historic ideals. But there must be sections such as "To ensure the fair and equitable distribution of the power of franchise, no candidate may be presented before the people until such time as his name has been printed on 20 million cards and waved about by thousands of fat women.''

Maybe this is what caused George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to fall out. George yelled, "Sire, I contend that as long as I draw breath your plans shall never come to pass. Rest assured no convention shall be deemed valid lest the balloons are dispersed at the end of proceedings. Now away with you at once.''

The level of banality was displayed by the thunderous cheer given to Arnie Schwarzenegger when he yelled "America is back.'' But what did he mean? The bloke he's supporting is already President, so where was it before it came back? And, in any case, the original line was "I'll be back", which is nothing like "America is back". But despite this making no sense at all, they all yelped and wet themselves. They'd have done the same if Michael Caine had come on and yelled, "I only told America to blow the bloody doors off,'' or if someone had come on dressed as Darth Vader and said, "I've got a message for John Kerry,'' and then done some heavy breathing.

How is it that the main speakers include the candidate's wife and daughters? But nobody even questions this, just as they wouldn't if it was announced that the next speaker was the President's fish, and a bowl with a koi carp was put on stage for 10 minutes while the girls squealed, "C-A-R-P - he's the guy who swims for me."

No wonder the Republicans thought that when Al Gore insisted on counting the votes he was being a spoilsport by holding everything up. Surely, if there were an independent body monitoring this election, they'd rule that the thousands of blacks in Florida who were denied a vote last time should be given two this time, plus 6.5 per cent of a vote year on year as interest.

Given that we do whatever the winner tells us, we ought to have a vote over here. And, seeing as Iraq is under US occupation, and Bush is eager for them to become democratic, the Iraqis should have a vote as well. Campaign strategists would come up with policies such as only taking one hostage a week, to keep the hardliners onside while at the same time appealing to the middle ground.

Despite the grotesque nature of the election, another America is emerging, as demonstrated by the vast protest in New York against Bush, and the response to Farenheit 9-11. Which is why it's so frustrating that John Kerry seems unable to tap into any of that. Instead, he mumbles how he sort of opposes the war against Iraq but was right to support it and wouldn't bring back the troops. Instead of stating that he was proud to have returned from Vietnam as an opponent of that war, he made the central point of his argument that he went and Bush didn't. At one point you felt if he was asked about health-care, he'd say "Yes Sir! America needs everyone fit, present and correct Sir!'' Asked about the economy he'd answer "If there's one thing I learned in the Mekong Delta, it's that dead men don't increase the gross national product Sir!''

After all that, of course he became vulnerable to anyone who tried to discredit his record. Instead of repeating the eloquent criticisms he once made of the Vietnam war, he tries to tie opposing it with supporting it and dribbles out a pile of nonsense. Some might say he has to do this, otherwise he'd be battered. But what a statement on the American system that you mustn't declare yourself an outright opponent of napalming villages or you'll be described as an extremist.

Kerry could have inspired the growing opposition in America, regardless of whether he won the election or not. Instead he's inspired no one, and as far as whether he can win, he seems increasingly to resemble an alarming ghost of Kinnock.

Whatever the result, opposition to the American establishment will still have enormous influence. It may already be the only thing that's stopped them hurtling into even more wars. And if ever it seems that they're so powerful they can never be dismissed, think of the wonderful images that make life worth living - a glorious sunset, a new-born baby, and the son of an ex-prime minister being shoved into a jail.

The tougher the conquest, the more glorious the triumph.

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