Jul 31, 2008 News Comments Off on Increase in voters anticipated at US November elections
Guyana has been one of the two countries to benefit from the knowledge of an expert politician in order to better understand the upcoming United States of America’s National Elections slated for November 4.
Senator Barack Obama is the Democratic Party nominee and Senator John McCain is the Republican Party’s.
Mr Donald Fowler, who has been directly involved in American politics for over 40 years, was sponsored by the US States Department to divulge his extensive knowledge base to local politicians, media operatives as well as members of the public.
During an exclusive interview with this newspaper yesterday, Fowler in the company of his wife, Carol Fowler, and US Embassy Representative Ralph Olsen, spoke of the significance of the highly anticipated elections.
According to Fowler, he is of the belief that the American people are generally taking this election very seriously.
He said that the presidential election is tremendously important. There are some things that are distinctive about it, among them the fact that this is the first election since 1952 in which there will not be an incumbent President or Vice President running for office.
“That’s a long time; that’s 56 years. It is an open election in the sense that nobody has a claim on it…Nobody is viewed, at least initially, as the front runner or the person who is the favourite.”
Fowler noted that there is currently a fair amount of unrest in the United States based on the economic circumstances, energy cost, the general job market, stock market problems as well as the war in Iraq which has led to some amount of uncertainty in the atmosphere.
He said that both the Democratic and Republican parties had six or seven substantial candidates running for the nomination but Senators Obama and McCain won in their respective parties which is in fact one element of the upcoming elections that is different.
The political expert said that based on his observation the two candidates are distinctive and different. Should Senator McCain be elected he will be the oldest person ever to be elected in the first term.
Senator Obama on the other hand while he will not be the youngest, he will be one of the youngest and the first African American to be elected even as he will be noted for being the first African American to be the nominee of a major party.
“They are different in race, they are different in age…Senator McCain is a person of my generation. He is a Vietnam War hero, prisoner of the war, he was wounded…A person with extensive Government experience.
“He has been in the House and the Senate for two decades. He has run for President before, he is well known, he is conservative but he is a bit of a maverick. He has challenged his own party, he has opposed President Bush on some important legislation and so he is by age and experience a different kind of candidate.
“Of course with Senator Obama he is distinctively different…his age, he is extremely bright, he is very charismatic and he attracts young people like nobody in my life time and he seems to be more liberal than Senator Mc Cain. He is also willing to do things differently.”
In being different, Fowler said that Obama has based his campaign primarily on the internet and has raised in excess of $300M in small amounts, a feat which has never been done before.
Additionally, Fowler said that in his opinion Obama has acquired more popularity, more quickly in a presidential race than anybody else in the history of the United States. “He has risen more quickly than anybody else.”
And according to Fowler, unless the running candidate chooses a running mate who is incompetent, his/her selection as a Vice President would not make much of a difference, a generalisation he claims has been true in most presidential elections in the US.
He explained that in the standard discussion of such matters three criteria are considered by the presidential candidate or his/her advisers when selecting a Vice President.
These, he said, include whether the individual could be president; if the individual can complement the president, for example in terms of age or experience or both; and an individual who is popular and from a state that can have a significant impact in hope that it could persuade voters to vote for the party.
But according to Fowler, it is expected that the elections will be significantly impacted by an anticipated increase in the number of young and female voters, primarily because of Senator Obama.
He, however, noted that “in terms of who is winning and who is losing there is not much difference…Obama is a hit but not by a large margin.”
Fowler said that he bases his statement on the results of the primaries. He said that in the Democratic primaries there was greater response in every state than has ever been experienced.
He disclosed that his wife is the Chair of the Democratic Party in South Carolina and that she was able to deduce that 240,000 more people responded in the primaries in that state alone, almost doubling that of previous years.
And while the Republicans have had good participation, they have not been able to experience the response as did the Democrats.
“Now I am a Democrat and I want Senator Obama to win but what I am trying to relate right now is not partisan. It is in my judgement an objective, or an assessment of him. He is young and there has never been a candidate more popular than he.
“His personality is electric. Particularly young people are attracted to him, in just overwhelming numbers, and unless something really bad happens to his campaign between now and come November he is going to bring out a great many people.”
But with such dynamics in play, Fowler noted that it is expected that the other party will in effect try harder as well. As such he said that he expects the Republicans will be working towards building its enthusiasm within the next three months.
However, Fowler asserted that while many young people will this time around be attracted to the elections it must be noted that older folks usually vote in greater percentages, a faction of the society that Senator McCain has been able to attract.
“I think that balance or contrast will contribute to about 60 or more per cent of the eligible voters which I think will be the highest since 1960.”
And though the issue of race has forever been a major factor in American politics, Fowler said that it is not as much of an issue as it used to be.
He explained that the change has in fact come about as a result of time, noting that the Civil Right Act of 1964 essentially outlawed segregation, 44 years now.
“Things have changed remarkably. It’s still not all as well but it is great change.”
Another factor that has defied the issue of race is the personality of Senator Obama, according to Fowler.
He explained that many African American politicians were exposed to segregation before they were able to transition to a liberal society. He added that by going through that experience it created a psychology of “us and them” and hence a division was formed which will always be in existence although it is now at a minimal.
But according to Fowler, Obama had in fact never experienced such a society and thus does not have a sense of “us and them.”
“If you were looking at him and you just listen to what he says, not only the intonation of his voice but his words…you wouldn’t possibly tell whether it was a white or black guy talking. So his personality and the way he postures himself, to white and black people, or to anybody, neutralises that sense of ‘I ain’t gonna vote for a black guy’.”
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