- By Cameron AbadiCameron Abadi is a Berlin-based writer for Die Zeit and Spiegel International.
We all know that it’s shaping up to be a bad election cycle for incumbent politicians in the United States. But the opposition insurgents, Republican or Democratic, who are eventually swept into office this year shouldn’t forget that they owe their victories, not least, to America’s two-party system. The voters’ recession-fueled outrage is inevitably mitigated by the ballot’s structured "either-or" choice.
For a sense of the potential fallout from a more open election, America’s political class might want to take a peek at Iceland, one of the countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis. This weekend, the capital city of Reykjavik is set to hold city council elections that will determine the next mayor and according to current polls, the prospective winner will be the simply-named "Best Party," a grouping formed only seven months ago by Jon Gnarr, one of Iceland’s best-known comedians.
Gnarr insists that the party intends to seriously govern, but large stretches of the campaign manifesto — in which Gnarr promises a polar bear at the city zoo and a Disneyland at the airport — suggest that he hadn’t originally expected to become mayor.
One only wonders what the U.S. Congress would end up looking like if there were credible third parties running advertisements as effective as the Best Party’s four-minute campaign music video (with English subtitles and set, naturally, to Tina Turner’s "We’re Simply the Best".) Maybe the Tea Party should consider adopting into its platform some of the Best Party’s more anodyne positions — "Topnotch stuff as a general rule," for example?
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |