Well, my American friends, you may know it already or you may not, but my country quite likes your president.
On this day, of course, as citizens of the United States go to the polls – notwithstanding the 90 million who may not even bother with voting – most of the American public will be focused on internal affairs. But given America’s influence on the rest of the world, there’s no doubt that citizens of many other nations have strong opinions about who sits in the Whitehouse.
This, you probably realised. But did you know that if the British public were to vote in the elections today, they would overwhelming support another term for Barack Obama?
While the result in the US hangs in the balance, a recent poll by AngusReid found that Britons would vote 10-1 in favour of keeping the incumbent in power.
And when Obama toured Europe a little over a year ago, a ComRes poll of the British public found that 70 percent thought he was doing a better job than George Bush, and 60 percent thought he was “proving to be a good president.”
Some of the shimmer of his 2008 victory might have worn off by now, but on the whole, it’s an inescapable fact that Britain is still very much pro-Obama. So here, if you can spare the time to read before you cast your vote, are ten reasons why:
1.Because he replaced George Bush
In recent history, no American president has had such a significant impact on British politics as George W. Bush. Collective opinion is that Bush dragged the UK into the Iraq War, thanks to Tony Blair’s unwillingness to stand up to him.
The war was deeply unpopular with the British public – it initially sparked the largest demonstration in the country’s history – and effectively put the nail in the coffin for Blair’s political career. It haunted him throughout the rest of his term in office, and cemented our deep dislike of Bush Jnr. When the latter left office in ’08 we were glad to see the back of him, and thrilled to welcome in a less bellicose president – and the memory of how much we prefer Obama to his predecessor persists to this day.
2.Because he keeps his nose out of our politics
Although David Cameron and Barack Obama have met on numerous occasions, and profess to admire each other greatly, their relationship couldn’t be described as close. Whereas Blair and Bush were BFFs, Cameron and Obama seem to have a more distant, professional relationship, and Obama rarely comments on British affairs. Given what the Bush-Blair partnership meant for the UK’s foreign policy, we’re completely happy with that.
3.Because he supports universal healthcare
Although ‘Obamacare’ was hugely controversial in the US, here in the UK (where every citizen enjoys free healthcare) it was seen as simply common sense. It may have its faults, but the British public is highly protective of the NHS, despite attempts of the current ConDem government to privatize large swathes of it in the name of ‘austerity’. In Britain, Obama’s plan to introduce universal coverage to the US was seen as a brave political battle to fight, and his final success in implementing the programme – albeit a watered down version – won him much admiration.
4.Because we’re more suspicious of the very wealthy
Whilst British society might still be riven with economic inequality, we have not yet reached the extreme polarities found in the United States. Being wealthy is generally acceptable – a high profile member of a previous Labour government famously declared that they were “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich” – but to be truly super-rich is more problematic, especially in the field of politics.
David Cameron, with an estimated net worth of £30 million, came under scrutiny for a statement in which he claimed to be middle class – an attempt at downplaying his privileged background to seem more in touch with ordinary folk. Mitt Romney’s net worth, estimated to be somewhere in the range of $200-250 million, would likely prove an obstacle to his election were he running for office in the UK. Obama, with a more modest fortune of around $6 million, is a much more palatable option to the European public in this respect.
5.Because we’re fine with the idea of being aloof
Opposition campaigns and political pundits alike have often criticized Obama for being aloof, cerebral, and somewhat lacking in warmth, a flaw that could count against him in the coming vote.
But over here, we’re British, remember – being aloof in social situations is pretty much the cornerstone of our culture! That whole folksy, touchy-feely politics beloved of the Bidens and Bushs of the American establishment just doesn’t come naturally to us. Though we have a lot of respect for politicians who can be down to earth and in touch with the people, in British public life it’s by no means a crushing handicap to come across as slightly cold.