I guess for most Americans this is a bit of a no-brainer, even if you don’t vote at all – like 36% of the electorate in 2008. Over in Europe the picture seems pretty clear too. That said, over here words like ‘liberal’ and ‘socialist’ tend to be used slightly differently to how they are Stateside – to put it mildly. Hearing Obama’s policies referred to as ‘socialist’ makes me wince – but then what I’d call ‘socialist’ most Americans would probably label communist, so I guess there’s a major difference of perspective at work here. Have they just become general purpose snarl words for the neo-cons and Fox News to fling at people who don’t agree with them?
Be that as it may, the choice from this side of the Atlantic seems to come down to either a moderate liberal redistributive programme or a fiscally neo-conservative one. OK, that massively over-simplifies the issue but hey this is a blog post not an economic treatise so you’ll need to cut me some slack…;) Romney et al seem to be saying that cutting government spending is going to instill confidence and generate economic recovery as the private sector steps into the breech. That doesn’t appear to have happened – not in America and certainly not here in the UK where a far harsher level of austerity measures have been implemented.
Obama proposes a more Keynesian economic approach, as advocated by US economists Stiglitz and Krugman – although no Democrat President since Roosevelt has seriously attempted to follow this path. Personally I don’t think the US two party system allows them to but there you go. Increased regulation of finance and public spending plus equality raising measures such as greater access to healthcare are all on the list of possible measures.
Foreign policy is a whole new can of worms and since I don’t want to make this too long , I’ll deal with it another time. Domestically I guess this comes down to two different visions for America. One claims to be fighting against a tyranny of equality. The other looks to balance the virtues of hard work and self reliance with compassion and assrts that the true test of greatness in a state is how it deals with its least fortunate and those least able to help themselves. Mitt Romney essentially dismissed all those Americans too poor to pay income tax as losers, thus making clear to me what his take on the ‘American dream’ really is.
That’s all for now.