I have been awake since two thirty this morning. This is normally the case for the first couple of days after arriving in the United States from Europe: long hours of insomnia waiting for the day to begin. Despairing of going back to sleep, I turn on the television. The nomination for the Republican candidate for next year’s presidential election is just heating up and the TV channels are full of speculation as to whether Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney will be the beneficiary of Herman Cain’s exit from the race. Twenty minutes later and I am completely demoralised by the quality of political debate. You want to scream at the television. As an advert for the supposed virtues of democracy – from the nation that was founded on its very principles – this is dreadful.
How can we expect China to give it a go, Russia to take it seriously, Egyptians to embrace it or Syrians to keep dying for it when its greatest exponent has reduced it to a pantomime? It is no better in Europe. The bond markets not the electorate have now decided who will be prime minister in Greece and Italy: two ancient civilizations that were experimenting with forms of semi-representative government when the rest of us were wrestling bears and hiding in caves. [Read more…]