I learnt about American politics by watching the US TV show “Brothers & Sisters”. Politics was one of the themes that ran through the series, along with adulterous dead husbands, long-lost children, straight/gay/illegal marriage, adoption, divorce, food, car accidents, war and wine. I didn’t really understand it before watching that show – but the series made it look exciting, glamorous and intense. One of the main storylines of the show followed Rob Lowe’s character Robert McCallister as he ran for president. After backing out of his run, his wife Kitty (played by Calista Flockhart who I am obsessed with and who the other day dressed as a nerd for Halloween because she’s fun like that) ran for congress in California’s 54th. It taught me a lot about the American campaign trail.
I lived in California the year Bush was re-elected for his second term. It was a weird old event. I remember sitting in a dorm room, watching the news coverage of it, observing as each state went blue or red, surrounded by my American friends. It was an interesting thing to behold – they do get passionate about it, do the Americans. I, of course, hadn’t been able to vote, given that I was an immigrant student at the time, but they all had. The consensus was that they wanted Bush out and Kerry in, but then I was amidst a group of Californian democrats. One particular red flag waved amidst the sea of democratic enthusiasts that I sat amongst and she (who I won’t name, in case I shame) did actually speak sense for wanting Bush back in. At the time.
America chose to re-instate the Bush administration and post 9/11 no less. I don’t know enough about it to decipher whether this was right or wrong but the consensus at the time was that Kerry wasn’t enough of a “character”. He was bland and blah and colourless – something that certainly couldn’t be said of George W. Some say America was afraid to pull Bush out – he was still, after all, passionate about the War on Terror (despite not really doing anything constructive about it and indirectly sending my friend Jonathan out to Iraq and Afghanistan).
I don’t know what was right at the time but Obama’s win four years later was indeed the initiation of a new era and I don’t see the point of Americans (or anyone else) dwelling on the 2004 presidential election too much. It was fun to be a bystander at the time, and yet immersed simultaneously. The polls for last night’s election were pretty close, yet again, with ruddy Ohio taking their sweet time once more. But the democrats are secure for another term and, while I don’t know a lot about Mitt Romney, it seems like the best thing for everyone. I like Barack Obama – I follow him on Twitter!! And his election and now re-election as President of the United States has certainly been enticing, interesting and full of flair. Perhaps I can’t help but think this way as I am a writer and a producer, but you’ve got to love a bit of drama in politics. I like shocks, twists, historical moments and cliff-hangers – and this is something American politics always provides. I think the last UK general election did the same and I very nearly pulled an all-nighter for that. To me, if politics are passionate and engrossing, they’re as good as a scripted drama. And no matter what, if you examine the US presidential campaigns in the past twelve years (the years I have been aware of them and not immersed in self-indulgent ignorant childhood bliss) you can safely say that they have been almost cinematic. And I’d say this is due mostly to the characters who have taken the senate. Say what you like about Bush, but he has production-value, even if for the wrong reasons. And Obama has it too – for the right ones.
Well done Barack! Consider this my open letter to you, a la Beyoncé.
– – A