Thursday, September 04, 2003

Beautiful Americans

Well, after that pompous introduction and a lot of playing around with the settings, I am ready to blog forth.

Wide-eyed in America. I am always thus. On each of my annual sojourns in this country, I have found some new dimension - sometimes many.
This year it has been the political process. I am in New Hampshire where the presidential primaries are vigorously underway. The party political system is vastly different to that of Australia where leaders are chosen within their parties. Here the leaders are chosen at political parties!
Oh yes, party politics takes on a very different hue.
The presidential candidates are presented to potential voters not only at public meetings in town halls but at parties hosted by local supporters at their homes. Garden parties. Lots and lots of garden parties.
One may receive an invitation in the post or by hooking in through a campaign website - and off one goes to hear and meet in person the candidate of the moment. The hosts turn on spreads of delicious refreshments and, in dubious weather, erect marquees. And the candidate rolls up at an appointed time, outlines his policy, patiently answers interminable and often piercing questions and then mingles informally with the people.
This is the most extraordinary hands-on electioneering. It is micro-campaigning - in a macro country.
I have pressed flesh and spoken to three potential US presidents - and listened to a fourth.
I can't vote, of course. But, as a political animal, I can thrive in the extraordinary immediacy of the process - and I can be a US politics junkie.

How sad it is that the likes of FoxTV projects to the world the image of an America of rabidly religious gun-loving jingoists. It is simply not the case! There is another strata of beautiful Americans, broadly read, curious about life and acutely sensitive to the inequities of the world. I feel rather blessed to be in their midst.

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