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Tim Wilson: Why the US election matters to Kiwis

opinion Tim Wilson

Published: 4:41PM Tuesday November 06, 2012 Source: ONE News

With the promise that the madness will soon abate, America's political silly season is reaching its apex.

As I write, Barack Obama's Twitter feed tells me he's currently at a rally in Ohio, the place where most pundits are picking he'll defeat Mitt Romney. The Republican challenger, on the other hand, is everywhere and nowhere; making pleas for his people, again via Twitter, to volunteer.

Judging by the two competing streams of virtual information, the President has a confidence problem, and Romney has a get-out-the-vote problem.

Thus the hacks' consensus is confirmed: President Obama has the race by a nose. Do you agree? We're running a poll here on asking whom you think will win.

Anecdotally, Kiwis I speak with (by no means representative) believe that Barack Obama hasn't been given a fair opportunity to fully govern. He should be allowed four more years.

This is despite him campaigning less on the basis of having an agenda to complete, and more on the basis of Not-Being-Mitt-Romney. The fairness theme reprises our preoccupation with equity; it also describes how much we recoil from that particularly American preoccupation: freedom.

Should you care for the results of this election more than you should for the results of, say, the Melbourne Cup?


In the somewhat dry estimation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

'The United States is the largest economy in the world with a very high average income. It is New Zealand's third largest individual export destination, third largest source of imports, and third largest individual trading partner overall (after Australia and China). The United States remains a major market for agricultural products. It is New Zealand's largest market for frozen beef and casein.'

Depending on the next President's economic policies, any recovery there would spark renewed consumption that could -in turn- affect a lagging price for those products.

We'd probably be almost as interested in China, for example, if it held free and fair elections. Free and fair televisual elections.

Another example: self-described compassionate conservative and isolationist George Bush won the 2000 US election in muddy circumstances, beating Al Gore, the man widely agreed (before the event) to become president.

Within a year the Twin Towers were a smouldering ruin, and the War on Terror had begun, a war that would eventually include NZ soldiers serving and dying in Afghanistan. Had Gore been elected, it's unlikely the US presence in Afghanistan would have lasted as long.

When the US sneezes, we (still) tend to catch cold, and worse. Keep that in mind during the ensuing floodtide of polls, parries, early voting prognostications, results, declarations, melodrama and -just possibly- drama.