Finally, the fat lady is warming up her vocal chords in the United States presidential race. After a protracted campaign, Barack Obama has the numbers to be the Democratic Party candidate, and Hillary Clinton has announced that her campaign will be suspended from this weekend. Of course, the real race between the two major parties is only just beginning. It also remains to be seen just who will be chosen to run as Obama’s vice presidential candidate. Many have suggested Hilary, others, including former President Jimmy Carter, have said that would be a bad choice.
Clearly, Hilary still has ambitions, but running for Vice President might not only undermine Obama, but her own future prospects for success. It might be better for her own aspirations to bide her time for a future election race. If Obama wins, she would still be a viable chance to succeed him in eight years time. And if the Republican John McCain wins she might even get a shot in four years.
Of course, it’s easy to look at American politics from a distance and feel that it has little relevance for us here on the other side of the world. But that ignores the obvious. From World War Two onwards, American politics and foreign policy has dictated the direction of our own country in almost every way. From “all the way with L.B.J.” right through to George W. Bush’s deputy sheriff in the Pacific, our nation and our way of life have been dominated by American doctrine.
So it makes a difference who sits in the Oval Office, and what their policies are. The relationship between Australia and the United States is one of the things which defines our own identity. It has for decades determined whether or not we go to war, and it continues to be the predominant outside cultural influence upon us. American foreign policy decisions have the effect of shaping the world, whether we like it or not, and Australia has made a point of remaining inside that particular tent.
We may not have a vote in determining the outcome of the Presidential elections, but that outcome will certainly have an impact on how we live.