Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): Politics: soccer of the US

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Politics: soccer of the US

The Democratic Rally yesterday was fantastic. I cannot vote as an alien, am unsure of who to vote for and felt ostracised politically by some of the wares on offer by the Democrats but couldn't help having a tingle of excitement down my spine throughout the event. The razmattaz, the banter in the crowd, the music before the main team came out and the slight confusion at who was kicking off proceedings, because we couldn't quite see, all reminded me of the football matches I love so much in the UK. There was chanting in the crowd, I could put my rabble-rousing skills to the test and was teaching new, slightly more boisterous chants to the Americans. There was that sense of being part of something which I have only ever got in a football crowd and there was that sense of a desire to lose control as a result of apposite attack. The way America seems to treat politics is the same way it treats sport. Politics seems like a fifth main sport, and I think that says a lot about a very sincere and earnest nation whose people are genuinely, on the whole, surprisingly optimistic people.

Amongst the Americans I have met there is not the same cyncism about politicians and a political "class"; even though to be President you probably need to have become a multi-millionaire and even though they are all rampantly critical of either the President or his challenger (or, on this occasion both!). Many may call this naivity or call it a fake veneer, but I think it is a positive, constructive characteristic which we could do with much more in Britain. Please, let's not sacrifice our uniquely forensic debate (I thought we were losing it, but having been here for two months I realise we've got a long way to go...), let's not descend to pure personality politics, but if we held out much more hope and pursued a constructive approach more along the American way Britain would be a happier and more respectful place with a much healthier political landscape.

Oh, to be able to host a rally like this for Party leaders during a General Election. My only concern with it, as I relayed to the Americans I met yesterday, is that I could almost be certain nobody would turn up! There is much we can learn from the US in Britain, without turning politics into a sport you watch briefly like any other, to bring politics back to ordinary people and to talk to those who are interested in politics but not political parties and to talk to those who feel disenfranchised from it and would probably never otherwise vote. A little of the optimism and energy of the US would go a long way.


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