I have a personal stake in the future of the United States. My grandson is an American. So is my son-in-law. My two daughters live there.
In another less personal way, I have a second stake in what the future holds for the USA, and that is this: I live on this planet, and what the USA does counts. It counts with everyone one of us because it is a big, wealthy country with a great deal of power. It counts in just about every way you can think of: environmentally, commercially, militarily, scientifically, etc, etc. And so I want it to have a responsible leadership – someone who thinks very carefully about of the consequences of the use of military force or of its trade policies, international relations, education policies. (In fact the weight of the responsibility that falls on the shoulders of a President of the USA is unbelievable – and I wonder why on earth anyone would actually WANT such a job…?)
So I have watched the selection of the Republican presidential candidate’s running mate with appalled fascination. A man who is 72 years old with a slew of known health issues may live to be 90, sure – but the odds that he might die in office – if he is elected – are obviously higher than younger men, or men of his own age with a clean bill of health.
Now in most countries that wouldn’t really matter. You’d have another election, or the second in command, someone already elected to the national governing body and probably elected to the post by his fellow party members, steps up.
In the USA it does matter. It matters a lot. Because in the USA a President who dies in office would have elected by his single vote the next President of the United States. (And you folk from the USA don’t know how utterly weird and undemocratic the rest of the world thinks that is!)
When I look at Senator McCain’s choice of a running mate, I am enormously fearful. Sorry, no matter how hard I look, I can’t see in Sarah Palin someone who is anywhere near being qualified to be the President of the USA. Of course, it’s only a remote possibility it would ever happen, but it makes me tremble already.
And, of course, I have absolutely no say in the matter.