World Run II / Reports
The map shows the position of which the pictures for the day are taken (if any). The start and finish markers are placed at the first and last valid registered position. This is not nessesary the actual start and finish position, if GSM or GPS signals was not available.
Distance today: 40.0 km (Accumulated: 32583.0 km)
Elapsed time: 03:51:02
Start 10:18am., at cross of Brockett RD & Hwy.1, 21c, some clouds and light wind. Finish 15:06pm., at cross of 6TH Str. & Hwy.1, 26c and same.
Politics in big and small scale !
- It by a long shot too early to sum up my impression of USA after only 3 weeks of running here in the South; and also a bit too early to fully compare with the impressions I got when running across North America in 2005 as the finishing part of world run 1.
But since today is "caucas" day here in Florida - meaning that its the day where registered republican voters get to choose which candidates they wich to see in the presidential election in November - then I'll take a little look at how I've experiensed USA and the american system and mentality so far.
Ofcouse; thats broad terms and a very big subject and I will try to stay away from any political preferences since both world run's are non-political in nature and focused on the athletic challenge and the cultural meeting person to person across the continents !
Yet, as a political scientist by education, there is things wich I find immideately interesting when comparing with the Europe that is my background:
First of all the positive that there seems to be more participation in the political process than what is the case in average in European politics wich ofter takes place far from the local communities in each contry and in many cases are quite an "elite" phenomenon. The clear example is the caucas itself; that the voters get to choose wich candidates that later enter the political battle for power in the precidential election. In Europe its nearly always the case that the inner-circle within the political parties (no matter wether its left or right oriented parties) choose which or what candidate the voters later can elect for office. So in that way the american system in letting the voters decide who becomes the candidates is closer to the original democratic ideal where the distance between people and power is minimal.
The reality, might be a little bit different; as it often is in politics ;-)
Because if I understand the background information correct then its to a large extend a matter of who has the best financial back-up. Meaning who has the largest funds to enable them to campaign. For example it appears as no coincidense that the leading candidate in the republican caucus has nearly a financial 1-to-10 'overtake' in his funding. And that... Perhaps means that in reality its the large industrial and financial organisations that can favor or disfavor candidates chances to get first elected through the caucas process and later in the race' for precidency itself.
Wether or not it as an democratic end 'product' is better or worse than the European models of elections is difficult to say. And ultimately the question ofcouse is wether they really can be compared in a just way. Still atleast one thing strikes me as more positive and thats the effort to take the debate out to the local areas. Financial influence or not, then political debate is one of the most essential things in order to make a democracy work properly ! And debate there is :-)
But once again, things seems to be not as simple as they first appear: Debate is good ! Albeit, its not without importance what the debate is about and wether it has substance or not. And there might be a little bit to be said about that...
While the caucas debate between the republican candidates definately has been entertaining to follow (all the way since I was still running in Northen Colombia and tried to catch it via a flimsy' tv-signal ;-) - then I'm surprised by how little actual "politics" is contains. I tried to estimate how much time was spend on different parts of the debate in the main 'duels' between the candidates as well as in their own presentations of their standpoints prior to the caucas elections in the first few states here. Not much attention was given to what they wanted to offer if they got elected: Instead about 65% of the time was spend criticising or outright attacking the trustworthiness of the other candidates. About 20% of their time was spend criticising the current President Obama. Leaving approximately 15% of their effort to describe what they actually wanted to offer themselves !!
Not much considering that I imagine they must have spend considerable time preparing and thinking about what their own politics are. And surely there must be strong reasons for them to run for office, apart from disagreeing with the current president and their parties other candidates. Or atleast one would assume that ;-)
What perhaps surprises me most in all this is that its so far from what I experiensed as core american caracteristics both in the first and now the second time running across USA: Creativity & a Dynamic way of life. As a European it both now and especially 7 years ago struck me how much more energetic, creative and dynamic americans in average comes across compared w. europeans ! I can't help feel, returning to Europe, that 'our' continent somehow is asleep compared both with USA and ofcouse also Asia ! A deep historical sleep perhaps...
And its in that aspect that it seems surprising that the political candidates spend so little time bringing creative and dynamic ideas across' and so much time on solely criticising each other and the current president.
Still... This is all "just politics". On my way on todays 40km stage, running past election-flags, election-posts and various campaigning material, I passed an old grey-bearded man on his bicycle - as I ran past he broke into a traditional army running/exercise song and smiling (with what teeth he had left) he waved back to me ! What encouragement; what entusiasm and I think that is one of the things wich describes the mentality here: that even when struggeling, and the contry certainly does seem to be struggeling economically at the moment, then there is a rare surplus and enthusiasm wich I dont see many other places !