Before we all get too carried away with how Barack Obama’s victory last week has changed the United States for ever, here are two facts to ponder. The New York Times reports that sales of handguns, rifles and ammunition have surged in the last few days, according to gun store owners around the USA, and polling organisation, Rasmussen, says that 91% of Republicans have a favourable view of Sarah Palin and 64% say she would make the best choice for President next time round.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised: I vividly remember being on holiday in the United States the summer before last and getting into conversation with people at the next table in a restaurant one evening. We asked them who they were supporting as the next President (the election was still fifteen months away). One opined that maybe they would support Rudy Giuliani, only to be shouted down by the others on the grounds that he was too left-wing. Then one of the men announced that he was in the ABC Party – Anyone But Clinton. Then a moment later added “And, of course, we can’t have a man of color.” What was so striking was that he felt no reservations about making such a remark in public, to complete strangers and in – of all places – a restaurant in Martha’s Vineyard.