I don't often write on the American political scene. Oh, I touch on it from time to time, and I do keep a close eye on what's happening south of the border. But being Canadian my principal focus is on events this side of the 49th parallel.
I do however have my opinions on American politics certainly, and on how both the Democrats and Republicans choose their eventual presidential nominees. In the case of Barack Obama, I view him as an incredible candidate who basically broke the door down when he beat out Hillary Rodham Clinton for the right to carry the Democratic banner in 2008.
Money, power and influence permeate the political scene, both here in Canada and in the United States. Without the support of powerful and wealthy behind the scenes players, a potential candidate has little hope of gaining the traction necessary to vie for the White House once every four years. Note that I say little hope, not zero.
Back in 2008 the candidate who had that behind the scenes support was Ms. Clinton in my opinion. Of course she would have to go through the primaries and garner the delegates needed for the nomination, but from my perspective it was supposed to be little more than a formality. Call it theatre if you will, not completely staged, but corporate media would provide the required narrative so the great unwashed would believe she was their choice.
Sounds far fetched?
Look at what happened to Ron Paul in the recent Republican primaries. After coming second in Iowa, an early contest capable of boosting a lesser known candidate's profile, major media outlets wouldn't even mention the Texas congressman's name. John Stewart made great sport of it on The Daily Show, just take a look.
Ron Paul was advocating something very dangerous to entrenched and vested interests, a return to the U.S. constitution, ending foreign wars and more importantly, business welfare. He obviously wouldn't be the candidate of choice for the industrial military complex, that's for sure.
But back to Barack Obama.
How did he succeed where Ron Paul failed? How was he able to break down a door that Mr. Paul couldn't budge?
It started back in 2004 with his keynote speech at the Democratic national convention in Boston. If you missed it and haven't yet viewed it...well then you're probably not a political junkie. But if you have an appreciation for great oratory, if words can inspire you and send chills down your spine, then give it a look.
It was at this point that Barack Obama became the political equivalent of a rock star. He was given this prestigious slot to help him win a seat in the United States Senate. No doubt it helped him win in Illinois, but four years later it gave him the national profile he needed for a run at presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The way I see things Hillary was the establishment choice, the primaries a mere dog and pony show leading to a coronation. The problem was that Barack wasn't given a copy of the script.
Does that mean I think Barack Obama is anti-establishment? Not in the least, I think he's very much an advocate for the establishment now. The current president has supported the same corporate welfare schemes and bail outs as his predecessor George W. Bush, has kept the Patriot Act on the books and not closed down Guantanamo Bay as he pledged (LINK).
I do not believe Mr. Obama could have become president if he hadn't agreed to play ball with the wealthy and powerful puppet masters pulling strings beyond the curtain. Hillary would have danced to their tune as well, in fact I think her refusal to drop out of the race for so long was the result of a unwavering belief that she was 'the chosen one' of the American elites.
And from where I sit she was, until Mr. Obama came crashing through the door and demanded the opportunity to be co-opted the same way both Clintons were.
I realize this is a cynical and not too uncommon point of view among many observers of the political scene. Basically the idea is that the agenda is set behind the scenes, with politicians fighting over who will get to deliver (or sell) the pogrom to the great unwashed. Its all great sport, but all the players are all being paid by the same group. If you want to be noticed on the field, you better do as you're told.
The question might then be asked: ''Why even bother with it, if its all basically rigged''?
Because it does matter in my opinion. There's still a piece of the pie left for Joe Six-Pack and Jane Wine-Cooler, although it seems to me that this slice is getting smaller and smaller. Sticking with the dessert analogy, imagine an apple pie (or pumpkin if you prefer) with one small slice carved out of it. That slice represents a political leader's wiggle room if you will. The rest of the pie has been spoken for.
Presidents and politicians can debate and argue over that small part, so long as the greater pie isn't touched, that big piece belongs to the elites, the behind the scene players..
My prediction for the coming US election is a Barack Obama re-election. Do I think it will be by a landslide or a nose? It doesn't matter, not in a winner take all system. Romney's role is similar to that of John Kerry or John McCain, fight hard and give us a good performance.
I will enjoy the show, but I'll put $100 on the Democrats holding onto the White House for another four years right now. Sitting as I do in the cheap seats, its all I can afford. After that, I think its Jeb Bush's ordained turn, unless someone else comes crashing through the door.
One can only hope.