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8 things we're really missing from the 2012 US Presidential Election

There hasn’t been much election fever spreading from America this year. We have some theories.

It might be missing a lot, but there are platters of sugar cookies available in Pennsylvania.
It might be missing a lot, but there are platters of sugar cookies available in Pennsylvania.
Image: Keith Srakocic/AP/Press Association Images

IT DIDN’T JUST have America talking, the US Presidential Election of 2008 captured the world’s attention.

The birth of the social media campaign, the possibility of the first black American president, the end of the Bush era and claims of media bias had us all hooked. Even celebrities made it their priority to engage in the conversation.

So, we had high expectations of result night parties this November but election fever is slow to move across the Atlantic. Here at TheJournal.ie, we’ve been examining why this might be the case. And we have a theory – the 2012 campaigns are missing some key components for mania:

#SARAH PALIN She was billed as the game changer…just no one was sure which way it was going to change. John McCain took a serious risk when naming his Vice President pick – relatively unknown Governor Sarah Palin, plucked from Alaskan obscurity. What turned into a nightmare for the McCain campaign, however, provided curious onlookers with one of the most phenomenal candidates in an American election. Despite endless gaffes, Katie Couric’s most famous interview, huge clothes allowances and confrontational speeches, the smartly-dressed, self-labelled Hockey Mom mustered up a massive fan base across the country. So big was her following that she retired from politics to become a television presenter and commentator.

At the VP pick announcement on 29 August 2008. (Image: Stephan Savoia/AP/Press Association Images)

She has given us so much…segue to:

#THE COMEDY FACTOR The nation’s expectations dragged comedian and Sarah Palin look-a-like Tina Fey back onto Saturday Night Live once McCain announced his VP pick. And the punch lines just wrote themselves. Actually.


#THE VETERAN Neither of the candidates – nor their VP picks – has served in the US Army, an unusual scenario in a US Presidential Election. In fact, it hasn’t happened in 80 years. That is before World War II and the emergence of America as a global superpower.

In 2008, much was made of Obama’s lack of military service compared with John McCain who was a decorated war hero. And the photos of him arriving home after being held as a prisoner for more than five years were circulated in the months ahead of the vote.

Then Lt. Cdr. John S. McCain III, a prisoner of war for more than five five years, waves to well wishers after arriving at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida in this 18 March 1973 file photo. At left is his wife, and son Doug, who is on crutches after breaking his leg in a soccer game. (Image: AP/Press Association Images)

McCain Field, the US Navy training base, was commissioned and named in honour of Admiral John McCain in 1961 in Meridian, Mississippi. Standing before his plaque from left, grandson, Lt. John S. McCain III and his parents, Rear Admiral John S. McCain Jr. and Roberta Wright McCain. (AP Photo)

John McCain in a Hanoi hospital as a prisoner of war in the fall of in this 1967 black-and-white file photo. McCain spent 20 years in the Navy, a quarter of it as a POW after his jet was shot down during a bombing mission Oct. 26, 1967. Alone among the major presidential candidates, McCain’s post-grad work was in the Navy in a time of war. (Image: AP/Press Association Images)

#ODD RACISM Barack Obama made history in January 2009 by being the first ever black president of the United States of America. A nation that battled slavery and, more recently, segregation was being asked to vote in a democratic, African American. The appetite for change was startling and it ate away much of the race commentary that could have overshadowed the campaigns. However, there were still telling stories to be heard across the country. One sticks out in the memory as it was first told by reliable polling site FiveThirtyEight and reiterated in Vanity Fair before being published as an anecdote in various other magazines and websites.

So a canvasser goes to a woman’s door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she’s planning to vote for. She isn’t sure, has to ask her husband who she’s voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, “We’re votin’ for the n***er!”Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: “We’re voting for the n***er.”

#JOE THE PLUMBER The 2012 election is yet to bring us a break out star in the same league as Joe the Plumber (real name: Sam Wurzelbacher) who shot to fame after taking on Obama while on the campaign trail. The candidate’s response to his questions on small business tax policies were used by John McCain to paint his rival as a socialist who wanted to redistribute wealth, something not popular with conservative Republicans.

Democratic presidential candidate, Senat0r Barack Obama, answers a question from plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in Holland, Ohio on 12 October 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Although we’re missing him from this year’s presidential campaign, Wurzelbacher hasn’t gone away just yet. He took his 15-minutes of fame, extended it by becoming a conservative activist and author, and now he wants to be a Congressman. Not content with being a side story, Joe filed papers in October 2011 to enter the race and, in March this year, he claimed the Republican nomination. He will face Democrat Marcy Kaptur in the November elections.

#OVER-ENTHUSED STUDENTS Remember Obamaism and Obamamania?

Students at Howard University celebrate on hearing that President-elect Barack Obama won the presidential election, in Washington Tuesday 4 November 2008. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

They gripped American campuses back in 2008 but have been absent over the past two months. It was hard to find a young Democrat who didn’t want to intern for the campaign, or at least give up one Saturday to join a fundraising drive in the local community centre. Last month, Associated Press reporter Martha Irvine wrote, “What a difference four years can make.

In 2008, college campuses were filled with campaign posters and political rallies — and frenzy. Remember “Obamamania?” This year, it’s difficult to find a college student who’s truly excited about the presidential race.

#CHANGE Four years ago, Americans were promised change. If they voted Barack Obama, they were getting a first timer. Inexperienced, yes, but people were jaded of the old politics anyway so what did it matter if he didn’t know how things worked on the Hill? They were going to operate differently from now on anyway, right?

This time around, voters are being offered Obama again – something that Romney’s campaign has reiterated over and over. “Do you want a repeat of the last four years?” is the message from his people who have been honing in on the poor economic climate. Or Romney – who some see as a sign of a return to the old-boys-club version of politics in that he is a wealthy and connected millionaire.

#DANA Because every presidential election should have all kinds of everything.

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