Last autumn – or fall, if you prefer the Stateside vernacular – the USA elected a new president. Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain, taking the Electoral College by 365 votes to 173. Obama became the first African-American President, and even took southern states such as North Carolina and Virginia. That appears, on the face of it, a convincing victory. So it might be expected that the defeated Republicans would accept the result and start their planning for 2012.
Since Obama’s election, there has been an attempt within the Republican right to show that the new President is not legitimate. This process has shown itself mainly in one idea: that Obama may not have been born in the USA. So what? Well, the President must have been born in the country. This is why Arnold Schwarzenegger can be Governor of California, but cannot run for President, as he was born in Austria.
So there have been a number of attempts to prove, usually, that the Obama birth certificate, showing that he was born in Hawaii, was false. In fact, by mid February, there had been nine noted by the Real Democracy blog. You can count them in this post which provides a summary of each.
This might leave Democrats quietly confident that their Republican foes are so concerned with this mean spirited behaviour, they won’t be providing a serious opposition any time soon. In the immediate term they are correct. But for this to carry on would not be good for the democratic process.
Having one party in power, providing a coherent programme for government, and with clear objectives and purpose, is good. Having, additionally, an opposition that keeps those in power honest is better. While the Republican right is trying to kid itself that salvation can be brought through a constant litany of lawsuits, the party will inevitably be distracted, and therefore less able to be an effective opposition.
I’ll revisit things Stateside a little later.