For many of us the brutally long and shamelessly simplified United States Presidential Election is far from the forefront of our minds. Its outrageous cost (now roughly $1Bn in total compared to our humble £49m) and the narrow-minded rhetoric of many of its candidates in the past have made us British shy away from American politics in favour of our equally fierce yet arguably more factual brand. Whether you agree or not with American politics, I argue that its results will have connotations not only for the plight of the enraged Tea party Obamaphobe or the downtrodden Occupy protester, but for each and every citizen of the world. Whilst every presidential election gets dubbed “the most important election of the decade”, this one certainly is, and here’s why.
I remember wide-eyed and head held high (as the crowd was so large) standing in the bitter cold of Washington DC on January 20th outside the Capitol building, listening to a man evoke through profound humility and powerful rhetoric the feelings of hope and expectation for change that I imagine were felt when Martin Luthur King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech 46 years prior. A surprisingly short amount of time has passed since the inauguration of Barack Obama, so how then has so much changed?
Before even the election of 2008, the seeds were being sewn for what would become a global recession that all bar a few days of Obama’s Presidency have been burdened by dealing with. When combined with the total lack of cooperation from Republicans, it is hard to see how any president could succeed in his ambitions, let alone the unprecedented racial implications placed on Obama.
Lets, however change the focus from what may have been to the theme of this magazine, Black and white. It is expected that 2/3 whites will vote for Governor Romney while 4/5 non-whites will vote for Obama. At one point Romney had an unprecedented 0% of the black vote! And it’s clear why; Romney a white, Mormon businessman has actively alienated the black vote. His plans to cannibalize social programs such as Medicare and Medicaid have the worst effects on the poor which are overwhelmingly black. Romney at a fundraiser in fact wrote off 47% of Americans as leeches who would vote against him because they were in the poorer threshold who don’t pay income tax.
The US election has deep implications for an America that is more divided than ever, economically, ideologically and racially. An election that in many ways should have had spelled a clear, if weakened win for Obama (particularly after Romney’s blundering oversees tour) has turned into a mess of speculation with polls flying about in all directions. A poor show by Obama in the first of three Presidential debates who failed to mount any substantial defense of his four years in office, came as a relief to Romney who’s campaign then failed to build on this success in the latter two debates.
What is clear however is the implications worldwide of a Romney Presidency and of a second term Barack Obama, no matter how much foreign policy has been downplayed in this election. A Romney presidency showing the same narrow-mindedness and lack of vision that can be seen in his domestic policies will be reflected in his foreign policy. Suggestions of increasing the already bloated military and a tougher stance on Iran combined with lack of experience will no doubt evoke in some people’s mind the brutish policies of the Bush administration.
On the other hand a second term Obama with nothing to loose will doubtlessly push and consolidate on its policies. However the potential loss of both houses of Congress may see the days of gridlock that mired much of Bill Clintons second term. Obama’s strong foreign policy record of “smart” diplomacy which has seen massive headway in rebuilding relations with it’s allies will no doubt be a better means of addressing the very complex issues in the middle east and china than the Romney alternative.
While the world will not end with Romney as President, it is clear that American global presence will, in my opinion be in much safer hands with a wiser and more determined President Barack Obama.