Normally I pay little attention to the internal mechanisms of US politics – I have even less influence over them than my ‘once every five years’ vote to decide which politician represents my area in Parliament.1 However, recently I have found myself taking a greater interest in politics across the pond, for two reasons.
First and foremost, the United States, despite competition from China, is still the world’s main superpower. It has one of the biggest armed forces in terms of both power2 and budget,3 which enables it to project force across the world – albeit with varying degrees of success. Through its control of the US dollar and Treasuries,4 it dominates the world economy. The recent political brinkmanship over the ‘debt ceiling’ has global implications, especially if politicians ever decided to jump – or be pushed – over the fiscal cliff.
Secondly, I’m aware that UK politicians have been keen to lean from the campaigning methods used in the US. This was particularly important to Tony Blair – learning from the Democrat politician Howard Dean’s campaign5 – but other politicians also dream about replicating Obama’s grassroots movement and campaign financing. Two books in particular which have been on my reading list recently are: Taking Our Country Back6 and HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton.7 In particular, I’ve always been interested in the operations of political parties – particularly campaign planning, funding and logistics.
As a result, there will be a few posts concentrating on US politics over the coming months, though the majority of content will still relate to the UK. Please let me know if you’d like to see a greater mix of content or if you’d prefer things to remain UK-only.
- At least in the marginal constituencies of Bury North and Manchester Withington, my vote can – and has – made a difference.
- For example, the US navy has the same number of aircraft carriers as the rest of the world combined.
- The 2013 military budget was $682bn, or 39% of global defence spending (source: Wikipedia and SIPRI Yearbook 2013)
- Treasuries are US sovereign bonds – similar to UK gilts – which many organisations are in effect forced to hold.
- Jonathan Powell, The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World, 2011, p.199
- Daniel Kriess, Taking Our Country Back:The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama, 2012
- Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, 2014