Matt McCarten on politics

Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: If the world got to vote, Obama would romp in

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Mitt Romney carries the hopes of the Republicans.  Photo / AP
Mitt Romney carries the hopes of the Republicans. Photo / AP

On Wednesday the Americans will decide who their next president is. After the recent Republican Party conference I wrote in this column that their nominee Mitt Romney could actually win. It seems incredible that this obvious phoney could beat incumbent Barack Obama.

With increasing globalisation and dominance of the US, any visiting aliens would assume the US president was the leader of the world. Every day, the world's newspapers and television breathlessly cover each twist and turn of the presidential campaign.

If the world got to vote, Obama would romp home. We scratch our heads that there is barely one percentage point between the two presidential candidates. Racism plays a big part.

But it's even more depressing than that.

Because American culture via media, film and lifestyle so dominates us, we think we know the American psyche. A friend of mine says the US is like a sandwich, made up of two coasts of sanity with an asylum between.

It's true that the west states and the New England states in the northeast are liberal and the south and much of the mid-west are barking mad. And I'm being polite.

I admire Americans. I love their enthusiasm and self-assuredness. They have an innocence and a naivety that you don't find in countries with more history. There's an ugly side to them, too. They are spoilt and have simplistic views about life. These traits infect and drive their politics.

Despite depressingly regular massacres by deranged nutters, no politician dare oppose the pro-gun lobby. The mind boggles that people are allowed to carry concealed guns in bars when they're drinking; buy machine guns at fairs and over the internet; and have the right to shoot someone on their property. No wonder they have more handgun deaths than the rest of the Western world combined.

New Zealand's Christian right-wing are so fringe they can't get a class monitor elected. Unfortunately in the US, they run the Republican Party and intimidate the Democrats into going along with much of their nonsense.

No US politician is elected without saying God told them to do it. When a majority of their right-wing voters actually believe that the earth is only a few thousand years old and really was created in a week you know what a candidate has to spout to succeed.

Abortion has been off the political agenda in New Zealand for a generation. In the US election, it's the number two issue after the economy. The Republican Party official election platform is no abortions for women even in cases of incest or rape.

Their Indiana candidate claims a rape victim has to carry a rapist's child to birth because it's a gift from God. Presumably God was okay about her being raped too. If she aborts, she and the person who carries out the procedure go to jail. His colleague running in Missouri publicly claims that if a woman is "legitimately" raped then her body has mechanisms to reduce the likelihood of conception. Both of these candidates could win their seats along with their vice-presidential nominee and 13 other Republican senatorial candidates who have signed up to the same policy.

If Mitt Romney and his party win, women's rights will be set back two generations. The Republican Party already opposes equal pay. With impending new appointments to their Supreme Court by the next president, women's rights to control their own bodies will be illegal. I can't believe any woman would vote for these men. Do the Republicans see the irony of their holy war against Muslim fundamentalist espousing the same reactionary beliefs?

Let's hope enough Americans do their duty for the rest of the world's humanity and save us from Romney and his dangerous ilk from becoming an example for every right-wing nutcase who wants to get into politics.


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- Herald on Sunday

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