Thank heavens I don't live in Ohio, or get tweeted by David Cameron
I heard sometime in the middle of the night (we'd left the radio on) that Obama had probably won... then a bit later that he really had won, Romney had conceded etc. I went back to sleep with a certain pleasure, or rather relief that I wouldnt have to be living on planet Romney.
And this morning it is hard to forget the lingering pleasure. Even "Thought for the Day" was an Obama broadcast. (I wondered what the nice rabbl would have said if Romney had won... did he have two scripts ready? Or did he write it all in an hour? You can listen here.)
So joy all round, but not without a few wry reflections.
First, what is it about American politicians that means they have constantly to bang on about how the USA is the greates nation in the world? In truth Obama's 'accession speech' (as the Romans would have called it) had some good bits in it, as those speeches go (democracy being messy etc). But it still had quite a lot of the 'top nation' stuff. Doesn't any one of them ever reflect what the criteria are for the world's greatest country? (I mean, why not Norway?) And that maybe part of the trouble in the world is that Americans are being brought up constantly being told that they are the greatest, simply by being American? (Usually -- as with the Roman empire -- top nation actually means, as Obama came close to saying, 'most fire power'... and that certainly excludes Norway.)
Second, isn't the electoral college thing weird? I spend hours each years explaining the Roman assembly system to students, how complicated it was, how it (either de iure or de facto) gave more weight to some voters than others. Usually I only half succeed, and they end up looking somewhat baffled by this strange version of "democracy". I think in future, I'll start with the USA.
But it all makes you think what hell it must be to be one of those privileged voters who matter.. I mean those who live in a swing state. When I was in Berkeley four years ago, during the first Obama campaign, and renting a house from a registered democrat, I was driven crazy by the democrats' constant phone calls, and that was in California for heaven's sake. Just imagine how you get battered if you live in Ohio? Must be a voter's hell. (I've complained here that the local candidates pay the average voter no attention whatsoever; the reverse must be yet worse.)
The final thing was the idea (told us with a straight face on the Today programme) that David Cameron had tweeted his congratulations to Obama. Now you would have thought that Cameron had learned his lesson about social media... but I guess that in the tweet department, it isn't him actually doing it, but some Downing St tweetmaster who see Obama getting elected and does his master's tweet business for him. But whatever -- great fan of Twitter that I am -- I dont actually much want it to be used to communication messages of state in 140 characters. Not exactly Twitter's job.
(Oh not quite the final thing.. eventually the news got found to telling us about all the other changes the US electorate had voted in, like the legalisation of the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado -- which should help the Colorado tourist trade buck the recession, if some Federal agency doesnt put a stop to it.)