OPINION - There’s more to life than America

Former US Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (Getty Images)
Former US Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (Getty Images)

I have something fairly shameful to admit. Having run out of old BBC election night broadcasts, and unable to sleep, I recently watched the 2005 Conservative leadership debate between David Cameron and David Davis. Spoiler alert: the victor was not wholly successful in getting the Tories to ‘stop banging on’ about Europe.

But at least that debate had an air of reality to it. In contrast, Wednesday evening’s Republican presidential debate groaned under the weight of extreme ideas while the candidate of insurrection – who also happens to be the prohibitive favourite – wasn’t even in attendance. This is not your grandpa’s GOP.

Do read deputy political editor Jitendra Joshi’s report, but to give you a flavour, the apparent winner of the night was a 38-year-old technology entrepreneur and political novice, Vivek Ramaswamy, who supports Ukraine ceding sovereign land to Russia as well as closing down the FBI and the Department of Education.

I think we talk about US politics far too much in this country. Recall my lightly enforced rule that you must name at least one European leader not called Macron or Scholz before discussing the redistricting process in North Carolina or a state senate race in New Hampshire.

At the same time, it would be odd if we paid no attention to the goings on in the world’s pre-eminent economic, political and cultural power. For instance, were an isolationist US president to follow through on threats to withdraw from Nato, that would have a far greater impact on UK security than the outcome of the next general election.

I suppose my main reflection is to avoid the belief, most widespread when it comes to something like the provision of healthcare, that the American way or the British single-payer system are the only two options. There are lots of them!

I get it, America is glamorous. Its geography boasts everything from deserts and swamps to polar regions. It has enough celebrities to support multiple late-night entertainment shows. Its elections cost billions of dollars and it possesses the ability to project power pretty much anywhere it wants. But there’s more to life than the rich kids over the pond.

In the comment pages, Katie Ingram, who lost her own baby, says she knows the pain Lucy Letby has caused. Isolde Walters suggests everything she needs for work she learned on the job and as such her degree was a waste of money. While Hamish MacBain thinks right-wing US chart hits should still thrill musicians.

And finally, is summer 2023 giving you the ick? From ‘status olives’ to Barbie quotes, these cliches have us all yearning for a vibe shift, cringes Alexandra Jones.

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