There has been a lot less hype around the US 2012 elections in the world than there was this time four years ago. The international hope to extinguish the toxic influence of Bush and his Republican sidekicks, and to usher in a fresh era in American politics with the change promised by Obama has long passed. Internationally, Mitt Romney is barely tickling the toes in terms of interest – but who is he and what does he propose to do if he wins the US elections tomorrow? What is the difference between him and Barack Obama?
Barack Obama – Yes, We Could Have!
That headline about sums it up if one were attempting to describe Obama’s term to date. It’s no wonder though – his 2008 election campaign promising significant change both inside the US and in terms of US foreign policy raised many expectations. In short, he did not deliver on both counts. Of course, the reality of how much he could have realistically achieved given the mess he inherited is debatable.
Economically, Obama allowed the finance houses responsible for the recession to escape the consequences of their mismanagement and corruption. As such, Obama reneged on a key election plank and none of the culprits were brought to account, they continue to head their banks, asset management companies etc after the largest financial rescue ever instituted. Indeed, by carrying out a rescue that did not carry penalties or include deep structural changes to the sector, Obama resuscitated Wall St. Additionally, no real dent was made in terms of addressing the inequality gap and barely any more taxes claimed from the rich and super-rich.
Socially, Obama certainly demonstrated his commitment in terms of healthcare, education and poverty alleviation. Skeptics however would be quick to point out that focus on the root cause through structural reform of the economy, which would restore jobs and reduce inequality, would have had a far bigger impact than Obama’s mere tinkering with the symptoms.
Politically, Obama has been erratic. The Iraqi pullout has been positive notwithstanding the fact that the country continues to be wracked by violence and lack of direction. Afghanistan is still occupied by a large American military force and operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan continue unabated. There has been no real progress in the Middle East and the Syrian civil war has gone unchecked on Obama’s watch. The failure to shut Guantanamo will also not go unnoticed.
Whether it was fear that the Democrats themselves would baulk at supporting such far reaching initiatives, or political ineptitude to get his agenda through, or simply unrealistic expectations about what could be achieved in 4 years, it doesn’t matter now. What matters is how the American public perceive the situation and compare Obama to his alternative, Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney – I’m like Bush, let me show you!
Riding as many politicians do, and campaigning based almost exclusively on the fact that they are not their opponent, Mitt Romney is better positioned than many might expect. But what will he really do and do his plans make sense?
Economically, Romney will run the usual Republican course – cut taxes for the rich, be friendly to the big oil companies by implementing fewer regulations and giving them more tax breaks, etc – all with the voodoonomics view that more money in the hands of the rich will ultimately mean more money will trickle down to the poor keeping everyone happy. Makes sense doesn’t it – if you cut taxes for the rich they can afford to pay an additional maid and gardener and everyone is happy, right?
Socially, Romney has moved his stance from a hard-core right winger in the run to be the Republican candidate to a moderate right pragmatist for the national election. That will certainly position him better although it is clear that he will still follow the Conservative agenda and make the likes of abortions illegal. And Obamacare, well Americans can just forget about that.
Politically, Romney is closer to Bush than in any other area. Purporting to be proud of American strength, he is likely to drive the USA into war with Iran and others and also more likely to create havoc through stupidity in the rest of the Middle East. Increasing the military budget when America desperately needs to rebuild its strength back home is probably not the smartest play. But then guns generally seem to be more attractive than green energy as far as the Republicans are concerned.
In conclusion, it will be interesting to see if the American public believes that Barack Obama will be bolder in pursuing change and honouring his election commitments knowing that the second term will free him of re-election concerns. As far as Romney is concerned, Americans have been known, a la Bush, to make mass decisions with a few sandwiches short of a picnic basket. On the plus side, a Romney presidency will certainly be more aligned to the Mayan predictions for 2012.
- Read more posts and the latest US Election news
- Wonkie’s Barack Obama cartoons
- Mayan prediction – 2012 end of the world
- Barack Obama’s first 100 days
- Sarah Palin cartoons