I'm writing this as a timed posting; assuming I did the setup right, you won't be reading this until polling has closed. I'm not American, and it's not really for me to tell those of you who are how you should vote.
If I was an American voter, I would have cast my vote for Barack Obama. Here's why.
I expect President Obama to disappoint me. He's center-right by American standards, and I'm not — I'm mostly off the American political map in a socially liberal/economically socialist direction that doesn't really compute.
However, he's intelligent, highly organized, and gives every indication of being extremely competent. He's run a campaign that, astonishingly, has not left him beholden to large corporate interests for funding — the vast majority of his campaign was funded by small individual donations. And if there's one thing the USA has been short of for the past eight years, it's competent governance administered by people who believe the system can be made to work in the public interest and who are not beholden to lobbyists.
I don't think John McCain will be a very good president. He tends to be hot-headed, during the campaign he's shown a worrying tendency to seek patronage wherever he can get it (resulting in his platform being held hostage to special interests), and I think many of his espoused policies are half-baked or counter-productive. There are also lingering questions over his health (and age). I don't think he would automatically be a bad or disastrous president, especially in comparison to his predecessor, but ...
The one thing that terrifies me about McCain's candidacy is his choice of running-mate.
John McCain's presidency not only places him in the oval office; it threatens to place Sarah Palin at the heart of the unitary executive welded together by Dick Cheney. The office of the vice-president has become swollen and excessively powerful in its own right under the Bush administration, and the incumbent vice-president wields unprecedented power. Cheney's constitutional theories make it neither fish nor fowl, a weird hybrid of executive and legislature that is subject to the rules of neither, but makes its own authority up as it goes along.
Sarah Palin frightens me because her grasp of US constitutional structures is worse than mine — and I'm a foreigner. She frightens me because she thinks her first amendment right to freedom of political speech is threatened by the existence of an independent media. She frightens me because she thinks the vice president runs the senate. She frightens me because she's a member of the New Apostolic Reformation who believe in spiritual warfare, casting out of demons, witch hunts, and the imposition of her brand of Christianity on unbelievers, if necessary by force. She frightens me because she fears and ridicules the findings of science and the scientific method, and holds it in disdain where it contradicts the elements of her faith. And she frightens me because I don't think she's entirely sane.
It doesn't matter whether John McCain lives to retire at the end of his presidency — letting a loose cannon like Sarah Palin anywhere near the spiderweb of special executive powers accumulated by Dick Cheney would be a disaster for the entire world.
And that is why, were I an American voter, I would have felt morally obliged to vote for Barack Obama.
PS: Okay, so my deferred-posting scheduler broke when I moved servers. No matter; better late than never.
PPS: I am going to sleep easier tonight, in view of the outcome.