Lessons from the US

At the time of writing, the outcome of the US elections was not yet known. Despite what transpired this morning, however, I would still like to say there is a lot about America’s political system that I would never like to see imported to Greece, just as there is much that is enviable. The first is how a complete unknown, someone well outside the «right» circles, can make it through the country’s finest universities, all the way to the Senate and just a step away from the White House on his own strengths. This reveals a society that is still profoundly democratic and a system that allows you to grab an opportunity if you can run the gauntlet. The trajectory of Barack Obama’s rise to prominence is even more impressive when we consider that he came up against a political dynasty (the Clintons) and won. The other side of this coin, the one that allows someone like Sarah Palin to run for vice president and even – God forbid – that allows her to eye the presidency, is a nightmare. Nevertheless, the American political system has proved that it has a knack for reinventing itself, especially when it hits rock bottom, as it did under the Bush administration. This is something we do not see in Greece, where politics looks more like a closed-shop profession. Something else I wish Greeks would emulate is that while Obama and John McCain were on the campaign trail, there was a team of experts and technocrats behind them preparing the governance of the country. In contrast with the Greek experience, where opposition means a lot of loud, empty talk, in the US the show does go on but someone is working in the background for the next day. And another thing. Look at the passion and vision displayed by Obama and compare it to what most Greeks feel toward their politicians. Personally, I don’t see any front runners for the next Greek elections and I certainly don’t see anyone with vision or a drive to inspire the people. The term, I think, for a country that has no political faith or passion, is «clinically dead.»