Given the dominance of international issues the 2008 US presidential race will be more important in some vital respects for British citizens – even than our own General Election.

Next Tuesday’s mid-term elections look set to give Democrats control of at least one of the Houses of Congress.  The implications for America and the rest of the world could be profound.  Irwin Stelzer writes this for this week’s Spectator (not yet online):

"Democratic control of either House will certainly make it more difficult for Bush to pursue his stay-the-course strategy in Iraq. The Democrats will control the funding of the war. With the chairmanships of the powerful congressional committees in their hands, they will launch a series of investigations into the conduct of the war, the domestic security measures adopted by the Bush team, the awarding of contracts for reconstruction in Iraq, and quite possibly set the stage for the impeachment proceedings that the Democratic leadership is publicly promising to eschew, but privately reassuring its leftish constituencies it has very much in mind. If you want to think about the effect of the American election on Great Britain, conjure a world in which the only nation with the power to take on nuclear North Korea and Iran is in the grip of political paralysis for two years, or is under pressure from Democrats reviving George McGovern’s 1972 isolationist cry of ‘Come home, America’."

There are other major implications.  The Democrats, still heavily unionised, may stall trade and immigration reforms.  Green Tories may welcome greater willingness to act against climate change, however.  The party of Al Gore will probably take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emmissions but the steps will be timid given the number of Democrats representing rustbelt, manufacturing districts.

Stelzer’s conclusion:

"All in all, it is an American election that will forcefully affect British interests. If you believe it is important to stay the course in Iraq and keep free trade flowing, root for the Republicans. If you are a UN fan, and agree with Al Gore that a global melt-down is nigh, root for the Democrats. Either way, hope that American does not withdraw into itself, as it has done in the past, with horrendous consequences for world order."

Related link: Daniel Hamilton’s guide to this year’s Senate races

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