Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, October 29, 2004

So Bush/Kerry wins. What now?
The US elections are four days away, and it seems to me that Bush will sneak again, probably without his team of lawyers this time. But the big question for me is, what next?

Whoever wins this election will be taking control of the seat of power with an incredibly weak mandate, serving a voting population that is polarised like none before it. Close to half of the voting public will go to the polls to keep the ultimate winner out, and will do so with incredibly strong convictions. The election campaign of 2000, coupled with the vitriolic nature of this one, has forged a populus that is staunchly entrenched in either camp. Add to that the major changes Bush has made in his term regarding America's style of foreign policy and interaction with the rest of the world, and there is simply no middle ground left.

The problem for the winner, is that the public will continue to judge policy decisions based on partisanship rather than merit, and this spells a danger for US democracy. This may be negated if the Republicans take control of the Senate and the House as is expected, but the public spectre remains. A Republican or Democratic policy agenda will mobilise resistance on either side and polarisation will deepen as half the US voters conclude that the US is heading in the wrong direction.

Election victory speeches extolling "unity" and "non-partisanship" will not ring true this time, and it is sure to be an acutely interesting first year of the eventual winner's term.