Posted by Laura – in Seattle
Well, color me happy and honor my soul! I think I’ve hit upon a realization that may radically change the very center of my beliefs.
I’ve only been here in Seattle three days (Monday night thru Thursday morning) and already I’m turning native. Before Monday, I was one of those Brits who thought harsh Zs and missing Us as abhorrent mutations of our pure English language. No longer. I’m getting to kinda like it here.
Think of all the time and energy Americans save without their tongues tripping over obtrusive consonants and words; al-u-min-i-um becoming just al-u-mi-num, and two-thousand-and-eight condensed to two-thousand-eight. In Britain our media leads us to believe our language, politics and way of life are more enlightened than that of our chums across the pond.
In the past we assumed America was unable to be trusted to continue the traditions of the English language – and even elect its own president. Remember the Guardian’s audacious 2004 Operation Clark County campaign in which readers were encouraged to write to voters in a swing state so Britain could influence the outcome? Many of those receiving unsolicited missives from condescending ‘limeys’ were justifiably incensed, as the Guardian’s follow-up feature and many US commentators, including Slate, later showed.
Witnessing first-hand the excitement and genuine interest surrounding the presidential primaries has made me see it is Britain that can learn something from the US. Our media’s clunky misjudging of the New Hampshire primary highlighted just how predictable home politics has become. The press is so used to knowing long-awaited political outcomes, like Blair’s resignation and Brown’s succession, months in advance it simply treated the US electoral process by the same note. It doesn’t work like that here. The final election isn’t for another 10 months and already voters are hooked. Here, political surprises do happen.
What can Britain, with a Prime Minister elected by no one and no prospect of an election for possibly another 18 months, teach modern-day poll-enthused America about democracy? Now’s the time for the Guardian to start campaigning for us to participate in American politics for the sake of our own collective sanity – not because we can make their choices for them, but because in Britain there’s no opportunity on the horizon to actually make any decisions… or anything worth making a decision about.