U.S. Presidential Elections 2012: What is this I don’t even

It’s that time again; the U.S. Presidential Elections take place in less than two months. The Americans choosing their new president is always something the whole world is more or less interested in. So far, I have managed to keep most things having to do with the elections at an arm’s length. Politics usually either makes me fall asleep due to boredom and dry speeches filled with statistics or angry at the ignorance of self-centered fools doing something at someone else’s expense. However, having always been a bit curious and totally confused about the presidential elections, I decided to take the vampire by the fangs and put together an overview of what is going on in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. Starting with the basics; the Election Day is November 6th, 2012. That is when the good people of the United States of America go vote for the electors who then on December 17th will decide the next president and vice-president. Each state has a number of electors in the Electoral College, which altogether has 538 members. For a candidate to win the elections, they have to win 270 electoral votes. Even if a candidate wins the popular vote, it is not certain they will win the electoral vote as well. According to the Wikipedia, the loser of the popular vote has won the actual elections three times: 1876, 1888 and 2000. The system has always baffled me and it has been criticized in the past by many, but as the wise say, it is what it is.

There are five main candidates wanting to become the next president of the United States of America, but only two of them really stand a chance. One of them is the current president the Democrat Barack Obama, an Afro-American man from Hawaii. The other one is the Republican candidate Mitt Romney, a former Governor of Massachusetts and a Mormon. The three other candidates are Gary Johnston of the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party. Even though either Obama or Romney is most likely going to take on the job as president of the US of A, both Johnston and Stein have gathered enough ballot access to theoretically have a chance of winning the vote at the Electoral College.

The candidates are not only trying to pursue their own ideas, but they also actively mock each other. Economics and employment seem to be the most important issues in the elections. Romney is trying to shoot Obama down with his ‘We’ve heard it all before’ tagline where he accuses Obama of not having done anything during his term as president and using the exact same themes in his campaign now as he did back in 2008. ‘Romney Economics’, Obama’s anti-Romney campaign, on the other hand brings up some of Romney’s former failures in economics, both as CEO and as governor of Massachusetts.

By just looking at the social media, it would seem that Obama clearly has the upper hand. He has 19 million followers on Twitter and his Facebook page has 28 million likes. Mitt Romney’s Twitter account has a bit over a million followers and on Facebook, he has 6 million likes. At least to the layperson, this makes perfect sense: Obama has liberal young followers who use the social media while Romney is ‘left’ with the old conservatives who steer clear of the social media. The figures here cannot be compared with their success in polls, though. According to the most recent polls, Obama is leading the race against Romney with the difference between the two ranging from 1 to 11 %. The numbers are likely to move around quite a bit in the coming weeks as the actual Election Day approaches.

But who are these people really and are they fit to be the next president? What they say and how they present themselves to the public is very important. Obama has a reputation of being a funny man. This is one of my personal favourite Obama quotes: “If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome.” (At the 2008 Al Smith Dinner) Romney, on the other hand, doesn’t convince me with some of the things he’s said. At the moment going around on the Internet is a picture of him and a quote: “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love.” Another good one is this: “He [Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” (At a campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, June 8, 2012)

Are the Americans re-electing the funny black man or is it time to put a Mormon who often seems to speak first and think afterwards into a position of high power is to be seen. Meanwhile, if you’re into politics and would like to get more acquainted with the ideas of the candidates, they all have good websites with tons of useful information dressed in the patriotic red-white-blue colour scheme. The Wikipedia page for the elections covers all the important things in a pretty simple package.

But now, it is time to wrap up with Obama’s Night of Comedy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EkcXE_Syks&feature=relmfu

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