I coined an old word in a new way last week, ‘BLONDED’, and I use it to refer to instances or occurrences where I am not so versed in expressing my opinion. For example, I am blonded by basic American elections and politics.
An educated source of mine assisted me understand, so I am less blonded now, and I feel a duty to share with all those who remain as clueless as I was.
Four years ago when Obama won the election, I was glued to CNN (like most others globally), watching the count from all the states come in. I stayed up and waited for the results, but I didn’t really get why it was so important, and what these numbers actually meant. I get it now; we waited up to see what would happen in the Midwest states, the ‘swing states’. These states are the most important in the American elections because they determine if the Democrats or the Republicans win.
To demystify further it took me a while to figure out the difference in identity and policies of the Democrats and the Republicans. The Democrats have a more socialist (for those in the UK, a labour like agenda) approach and the Republicans have a more conservative agenda. Party choice becomes a lifestyle choice, which determines voting behaviour and is very distinct and state centric. Certain states across the US have either a Democratic or Republican agenda, so it is easy for the candidates to determine what states to target their efforts to win votes.
Voting in America is glamourised by theatrical displays of oratory via a series of debates; round one 2012, most people were disillusioned with Obama’s performance, in the second debate last night, the opinion polls put Obama back on top. This takes me back to the days of the ancient Greeks and the associated sophistry; where the wisest men came to the arena and spoke about leadership. The only issue is that in the 21st century, wisdom is no longer the trump card, debating is used as a tool of differentiation, social engagement and voting power.
Obama and Romney last night characterised what was a first class display of a two party political system. It was almost like a war, where the incumbent was on the defensive, and the challenger fully on the offensive. This indeed is what politics should resemble, even in the not so mature multiparty emergent democracies globally. Those in power must remain on the defensive and defend their policies, while the burden of truth remains on the shoulders of those vying for power. Critics have disparaged Romney for telling a lot of untruths, whether this is the case or not, his purpose in the election process, is to throw doubt or to an extent discredit the ‘defence’ and weaken it so that opposition finds a loophole/ pathway into power. Reminiscent of The Art of War, deception is necessary in the battle of American leadership “A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear incompetent…” In my blonded opinion, Romney is doing a good job, providing an alternative.
An alternative in times of austerity is always attractive. Globally there is horror about Romney’s response on the woman issue (this was the highlight in the debate for me yesterday), his response was very honest and an alternative to the status quo and has actually worked in many private companies. I do not believe Romney’s response objectified women; he suggested women would like to have dinner with their kids, and women to a larger extent deserve positive discrimination due to years of marginalisation in the workplace. I think the issue is that Romney might not be as articulate as he would like to be, and having suggested he had #bindersfullofwomen his intention was misconstrued, as he must have intended to explain that giving women the right opportunities based on merit requires accurate databasing and repositioning. Romney also proposed flexible working arrangements for women as a good alternative to rights of equal pay. The argument about equal pay does not address the fact that women are not singular and possibly have different interests, Romney showed in fact that the question was loaded and needed to be deconstructed and he provided an alternative way of looking at a key question relating to women. As a woman I have the right to the ‘choice’ to be a mother and a high earner, and if the government focuses on providing a platform to allow this to happen, this is a great alternative to the status quo of the uber woman aiming only to break through the ‘glass ceiling’ as Obama proffers.
I am no longer ‘blonded’, I understand why the opposition have an easier job, and why it is important for the incumbent to always defend with passion. In the art of war, although the fight is based on subtlety- without passion, the battle is lost. “According to Sun Tzu, it is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached warrior who wins, not the hothead seeking vengeance and not the ambitious seeker of fortune”. (Cleary, Thomas)