The angry voter is an unpredictable animal. And it's the beast that the two American presidential candidates are trying to entice.
Between the young Democrat Barack Obama (44* years old) and the old Republican John McCain (77** years old), the party is far from over.
It is true that Americans are sick of George Bush. In promising change, the charismatic senator from Illinois has quite a leg up. He's lured crowds in Europe, charmed foreign public opinion, reviving the idea of a grand and generous America through colorful speech.
But it won't be that America that will go to the polls this upcoming November 4th. The real America is morose, indebted, worried, more religious and out of gas. This America could find the white mane of John McCain more reassuring.
Without taking into account the unfinished business - even if they would hope to - of digesting the racial question. In numerous states, (our Appalachian neighbors, for example), Obama doesn't fit the mold. As a journalist recently reported in the British daily the Observer, this big, mixed man from Kenya*** isn't "one of them." Even people who up to now have always supported the Democrats admit that they will not vote for him. A black editorial writer recently told me that they would have elected a woman before a black! To each his own "us."
John McCain may be a septuagenarian and only offer a meager hope for change but, in their eyes, he is a member of the tribe, and consequently, more trustworthy. One mustn't underestimate the grouchiness of Americans. Their dollar is sinking against the euro. The high price of gas eats harshly into their lifestyle. Pretty highways and subways badly lined with costly gas. The values of their houses are falling. The cost of medications is up. The country's deficit approaches a record high increased by the never-ending Iraq war. The U.S. doesn't need to read the best seller by Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World, to conclude that their generation is the last to know "The Greatness of America." (Debatable conclusion to be sure, but true, since its optimism is in the skids).
Four out of five Americans say that it's more difficult now than it was five years ago to maintain a middle-class lifestyle. They blame everything and nothing. Outsourcing, the rise of China and India, illegal immigrants, free trade. Often, they forget some other explanations: a large number of their workers are in poor health; the education system has fallen behind Europe's; their society, smothered by its obsession with security, is less free and less innovative than before.
Barring a dramatic reversal, it's that mindset that will go to the ballot boxes the next November 4th. Grumbling. Worried. Preoccupied by the poor state of their economy.
John McCain, a hero of the Vietnam War, has already joked that he doesn't know much about the economy, but he would know with whom to surround himself. His policies are close to George Bush's: fewer taxes, free enterprise, more privatized health care. He is in favor of a cap and trade [system] of gas emissions, just like Barack Obama. However, either one or the other should tell Congress about it. This same Congress, controlled by the Democrats, just refused to pass a plan to combat climate change.
Change, you say? Yes, we can dream about it. But America is a damned rotten cargo ship that doesn't change as quickly as that.
* Senator Barack Obama just turned forty-seven.
** Senator John McCain will turn seventy-two later this
*** Senator Obama's father was born in Kenya, not the