Ready for Change in America?
The presidential election isn't until November, but the first electoral shots have now been fired. The Iowa caucus remains far too individual, small and, frankly, unrepresentative to stand as an indicator of American opinion, but it does provide momentum to the lucky winning candidates. And in both parties the winning candidates were the outsiders - former Baptist minister and small state governor (Arkansas - the Clinton state!) Mike Huckabee for the Republicans, and black first-term senator Barack Obama for the Democrats. The result is particularly galling, perhaps, for Hillary Clinton, who thought she had a lock on the Democrat nomination way back in 2007. But both she and the Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney, have suffered from campaigns that have been almost too calculating. Clinton's political positions have been varied and contrasting and it has been difficult to establish just what she does mean for the future of America. Experience and change are not exactly comfortable partners, and yet that was precisely what Clinton was offering the electorate. Barack Obama, by contrast, has been consistently fresh and exciting, and preaches clear messages - none more so than his 'troops out' approach to Iraq.
Well, in this longest of democratic elections, Iowa really is only a small first step, but it's provided an immediate upset and sparked renewed interest in the first presidential contest in over half a century where neither party boasts a sitting president or vice-president in the running. For some immediate analysis, the Spectator's James Forsyth has been blogging away madly on the Spectator's Coffee House blog; he is distinctly pessimistic about Hillary's chances, whilst acknowledging that it is obviously too early to write off such a well financed and experienced campaigner. Now, on to New Hampshire, where in the Republican camp John McCain may provide the next upset. I love American politics!