By JAMILA RIZVI
Wake up and smell the democracy everyone. Because while you were resting your weary champagne-damaged, cup-fever-addled heads, the world’s greatest superpower has headed to the polls. And over the course of today we’re going to see the first results of an election that will have a significant impact on the direction of global politics over the next few years.
‘Oh no!’ I hear you gasp, recoiling in horror at your desk (or couch) and banging your head violently against the keyboard. ‘But I don’t know sh*t about this all important electoral process! I don’t know my red states from my blue states. I wouldn’t have a clue about each candidate’s approach to energy policy. What’s a primary? What’s a caucus? And why is everyone yapping on about Ohio and Florida when the only US state I’ve ever visited is oh-so-nice-they-named-it-twice, New York?’
But never fear, my friends. Here at Mamamia, we’ve got you covered. Here is everything you need to know to be able to hold your own in a conversation about the election results in the tea room or at mother’s group today. That is… everything you need to know sans detail. We’re playing it fast and loose today. Quick and dirty. But giving you all the key facts just the same.
(1) Who’s who and how did they get there?
Like in Australia, there are two major political parties in the United States – the Democrats and the Republicans. Unlike in Australia, the US uses a direct election system to determine who their leader will be, which basically means voters actually see the name of the potential Presidents on their ballot paper (not just their local representatives like we do).
Candidates from each party who would like to become President (it’s a pretty sweet gig: you get your own plane and a white house) fight it out through a series of caucuses and primaries over a period of 5 months. Primaries and caucuses determine delegates from within each party, who then head off to a national convention as representatives of their state and tell the rest of the country who their state wants to be the nominee.
And after all of that, we end up with two candidates for President. For the Democrats, it was a pretty easy selection process this year, they ultimately settled on a nice young man whose skin tone has gained a lot of attention and is married to a woman with stellar upper arm muscles – you might have heard of him? Barack Obama. Former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney (who beat out Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul) is the Republican Party’s nominee.
(2) And what will these men do for (hypothetical American) me?
An excellent question. As a fairly staunch supporter of progressive politics, I didn’t quite trust myself to give you a fair and unbiased view here, so instead I have trawled the web for inspiration.
A helpful friend passed on the details of a little known but very succinct blog called The Current Beat. And they’ve done a great break down of the key policy issues at play and where each candidate stands: