Britain’s love affair with Obama

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What a beautiful, beautiful man. Image courtesy of the lucky people who get to follow Barack Obama around with cameras all day (US Government Work).

Almost three weeks ago, the world witnessed a very important event. No, I’m not talking about the beginning of the latest series of ‘I’m a celebrity… get me out of here’. On the 7th November 2012, Barack Obama was re-elected as President of the United States. You can’t have missed it. Seriously, it was everywhere.

Understandably, the world was paying attention – with America being such a huge global power, what happens there effects us all. And everybody (I mean everybody) had an opinion. Even people who hadn’t been following the campaigns had something to say when election day arrived, and Facebook and Twitter were flooded with commentary as the votes unfolded. People were definitely giving more of a shit than they do for most of British politics.

As I’ve said, this amount of bother over the elections was to be expected, considering the implications it would have on a global scale. What was interesting, however, was the vast majority of support Obama received across the world, and especially here in Britain. While in America the polls suggested it would be a close call, and people were split pretty evenly between the two, over here the polls were at 70% for Obama, while a mere 7% were Romney fans. While this made perfect sense to me as an Obama supporter myself, it did make me wonder why the difference between support for the candidates was so comparatively high in our country.

The answer can be found in what the two candidates stand for – not necessarily in the finer details of their economic plans, but rather in the bigger picture of what they represent. With Obama, you have a liberal: aiming to provide affordable health insurance to all US citizens through Obamacare, supportive of gay marriage, and addressing issues such as climate change and immigration in a positive way. While he has perhaps not lived up to all the promises he made before his first term in office, you have to consider what he was up against – Romney: a conservative who is against gay marriage, who wants to limit women’s rights when it comes to rape and abortion (while seemingly having no concept of how the reproductive system works), and who favours military action over diplomacy.

When looking at the candidates stances on various subjects, it’s easy to see why we would support Obama over Romney. Overall, we are a largely liberal country (even those who support the Conservative Party are rarely as right-leaning in their views as Romney). We already see health care as a basic right, and are granted it through the NHS. While same-sex marriage is not yet legal in this country, many of us would like it to be. As a nation we are nowhere near as devoutly Christian as the US, and are on the whole open-minded about people’s sexuality, and about women’s rights to abortions.

Those who take similar stances to Romney on issues such as Gay rights, abortion, immigration and so on do exist in this country, but are clearly not as prevalent as in America. Indeed, mostly these attitudes are deemed homophobic, sexist or racist by most of our population, and those who hold them are seen as unsavoury individuals by the rest of use. This attitude of tolerance we clearly hold in this country explains why there was such a strong outcry from us against the possibility of Romney winning the election.

I’m proud that as a country, we’ve shown that we stand for these principles in our support of Obama – principles of equality, human rights and forward thinking. Now, if only we can apply these principles to good use in our own government…

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