The joke used to be that Americans lived on a different planet to the rest of the world — and it was exacerbated by their election of George W Bush to two terms.
But finally, with the result yesterday, it’s a resounding reminder that most Americans aren’t that different from the rest of us. But what about that percentage that didn’t vote for Obama?
They’re not all nuts, certainly, but there’s a hardcore base, at least 20-25% of the electorate, that are a real worry. People that believed every attack on Obama, who could see him as a secret Muslim, then a Marxist, Socialist, and whatever else the erratic Republican attack machine felt like dishing out that week. People who still think the Rapture is around the corner, that the Earth was created in seven days just a few thousand years ago, that blacks should “know their place’, and that the Bible is literal truth that should be taught in science classes.
I know these people exist in every country to some degree, but until now, they held serious power in America. We rejoice the fact that the rest of the US seems to have woken up to them and booted them out, but where will this hardcore base go now? Will they just knuckle down and ignore Obama for the next few years (and quite frankly begrudgingly enjoy some of the changes he will make), or will they open up a new attack front. After all, they spent their years in power acting like an aggrieved minority, and now, suddenly, they really are the minority.
These people are the true American Martians. They don’t just live on a different planet to the rest of the world, they live on a different planet to the majority of their own fellow citizens now.
It’s great to see Obama reaching out to them, along with everyone else, after his victory, but these people (or an even smaller subset of them), are the only thing that really worry me about Obama’s victory. It’s no secret that most people are predicting at least one assassination attempt against the new president, and maybe several. Let us hope it never goes that far of course, but it’s not hard to see it happening.
I always wondered if some angry leftie would take a shot at Bush, but it’s just not in the nature of the left to behave like that, and consequently, there wasn’t even a plot to speak of that I ever recall. But sadly, it’s not hard to imagine some elements of the extreme right wing plotting already.
But Americans, or Obama and his new team, can’t let themselves worry about that. The Secret Service knows what they’re doing (witness the incredibly subtle bulletproof glass shield at his victory speech), and he’s got to get on with fixing a damaged but proud nation. One that most people in the world, when it comes right down to it, do find appealing.
It’s always been the idea of the USA that appealed most, and so rarely it’s reality. Let’s see if President Barack Obama can change that. He’ll take along the American Martians if they want to join him, but if not, well, they’ll just get left behind again.