Yesterday evening I attended a local Democratic party meeting. At first glance it didn’t seem so different from a local political meeting in Britain: thirty-odd people in a room fit for twice that number; various notices for local fundraisers and fetes; the odd petition being passed around at the back of the room. But it was subtly different too. In the same way that Americans don’t stand for office, they run, chairpeople don’t sit at a table next to a green ink-wielding secretary, they stand at a podium and keep a steady pace to proceedings. There wasn’t even a single point of order.
A representative from each of the three main Dem candidates addressed the congregation. A senior official from Bill Clinton’s administration spoke first, providing his personal perspective on Hillary’s humanity and experience. Next was a young Edwards supporter who offered eloquent views on his candidate’s fight against poverty and vested interest. Finally, Obama’s local organiser explained that his man made you “feel good inside” and, with slightly cultish overtones, suggested that something was happening that we all had to be a part of. My fear is that if Barack does get into the Oval Office, he’ll leave a generation of voters disappointed and distrustful as the “audacity of hope” turns into a series of unfulfilled struggles to cope with the machinations and deal-making of life in DC.