THE US elections today highlight the centrality of the people to a country’s politics. All the issues are about the welfare of Americans. Whether in war or peace, America is in perpetual search for resources to improve its peoples.
The difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is how each intends to achieve the national agenda.
Economy, unemployment, taxes, health, immigration, security (at home and abroad), are areas where Obama gets constant flaks, not minding that he has managed the worst recession in a lifetime. Republicans accuse him of pushing policies that could result in a worse recession.
His stimulus plan boosted the economy, yet failed to drop the record-high unemployment rate of 9.1 per cent.
Jobs are a concern as statistics fell below Obama’s promises. The last incumbent president to win an election with unemployment rate above 8 per cent was Franklin D. Roosevelt, in plainer terms, 75 years ago.
What to do with the federal deficit, currently over $14 trillion, was a key issue in the campaign, as was gay marriage, which Obama supports, drawing a clear line between him and Romney.
Foreign policy, even with the war in Syria, revolts in the Arab world, perennial difficulties in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and occasional rumbles with China and its allies, had a back seat until the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi which Romney blamed it on a weak America. Obama parades the killing of Osama bin Laden as a major achievement.
Immigrants can play a big role in the elections. Obama’s reform did not result in substantial changes. States like Arizona are implementing regulations that permit the police to demand on spot identification from immigrants.
Illegal immigrants caught, under the law, can be deported. An estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, mostly Latino, are in the US. Latinos may support Obama again.
Other Obama advantages over Romney are Romney’s inconsistent position on abortion. He opposed it when running as Massachusetts governor, but now supports it. Republican lawmakers’ proposal to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, the US’ largest provider of cancer screening to women with low incomes, could favour Obama.
Americans have used the last months to articulate issues they consider important to improving their lives.
The candidates differ in personality as well as their ideas about the tasks ahead, but the survival of America and the passion to see it through is evident in each candidate’s positions.
Whoever wins, the world would see an American president whose interests are about making America and Americans safer.
The world may benefit from the policies, but we must be mindful that America sees global peace as useful only when it serves American interests.