Mark Steel: I’m frozen with fear – could Obama
still lose the election?
The Republicans have had the worst campaign possible. It should be all over
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
I’m still cacking myself. I know all the commentators are saying Obama’s already won but I find myself scouring the internet for reassuring polls, and there’ll be an article from Nevada quoting a truck driver that’s supporting McCain, and I’m like a hypochondriac that’s discovered a lump, frozen with fear and convinced this means the Republicans will win and reintroduce slavery and make it illegal for any creature to evolve.
Because it ought to be utterly totally wrapped up, as the Republicans have had the worst campaign that could ever be possible. The candidate looked like there couldn’t possibly be anyone in the country more idiotic, but he scoured the continent, found someone who was and made her his deputy. Then a disastrous economic crisis began weeks before the election while they’re in charge, then their own side started deserting to Obama, they’ve been caught spending half the economy on dresses, but they’re STILL only a few per cent behind.
McCain could announce he’d bomb Argentina for being too near the start of the alphabet, flash at Oprah Winfrey shouting “Hey Joe the plumber, there’s ONE waterworks that doesn’t need fixing” during the national anthem, reveal he was chairman of a company that’s been selling teddy bears that turn out to be stuffed with petrol-soaked semtex, and admit he didn’t go to Vietnam at all but spent the whole war in the bath. And the following day we’d hear that a string of gaffes had caused Obama’s lead to climb to SIX per cent.
So the next day McCain and Palin could go on Russell Brand’s radio show, ring Obama’s dying grandmother and yell,”We screwed your grandson” on her answer machine, and the day after the gap would be back to five per cent again.
At his rallies McCain looks demented, and one of his most stirring closing slogans is “As President I will put America first.” Then his supporters cheer, as if they’re thinking “Thank God he got THAT right.” As if there was a chance he might have said, “As President of America I will put New Zealand first. Bollocks to America, that place got me shot down in Vietnam.”
Now the Republicans appear to be at war with themselves, blaming each other for the disasters, and there must be a chance they’ll give up altogether, with McCain saying, “Oh sod it, I never wanted to be President anyway, as I want to be a lap dancer.” Then we’ll read he’s gone SEVEN per cent behind in the polls.
Even if you had no interest in politics, one glance at the two candidates should make it obvious who was more assured and competent. And if you have a slight interest in politics then you’ll notice that one candidate supported a disastrous war and the other one didn’t.
It’s as if someone on Strictly Come Dancing one week wet themselves mid-samba, then slipped in their own puddle, drop-kicking the judges and shorting out the electrics and then Bruce Forsyth said, “Well, it’s still very close who’s come last this week so keep those votes rolling in.”
One reason why it remains closer than it should be is obvious. Before the election’s over, there’ll be at least one Republican supporter on Fox News who’ll say, “I think that one of the areas in which McCain scores heavily over his opponent is he’s proved himself far more adept and capable, over the years, at being white. And for all Senator Obama’s flair and charisma this is a skill he clearly lacks.”
In one sense it may seem ridiculous to get over-excited about Obama. Far from promising anything radical, he’s friendly with the wealthiest section of Wall Street, suggests he’d bomb Pakistan, and has no desire to challenge the greed of corporate America. But society isn’t just propelled by the policies of leaders, it’s driven by the actions of millions. And Obama has come to represent the voice of those who wish America, and the world, to be more equal, less prone to crazy wars and closer to the values of civil rights. This isn’t just because he’s black, as this wouldn’t have been possible if the candidate was Colin Powell.
If it wasn’t for the civil rights campaign and the movement against the Iraq war, Obama’s campaign couldn’t have taken off. So for Obama to win would be an inspiration to all those who supported those values, and a humiliating defeat for all those who opposed them, even if Obama himself may well betray those ideas.
But if McCain wins, imagine how that will transform electioneering. In general elections around the world each candidate will strive to come over as more incompetent and idiotic than the other, starting party political broadcasts by announcing that they don’t believe in gravity, then accidentally setting fire to themselves and choosing Rita Fairclough from Coronation Street as their deputy before saying they didn’t realise that she wasn’t real.
See, there’s a lot at stake and I’m right to be worried.