By Ramzy Baroud
Come November 6, American voters will decide whether to extend Obama's mandate by four more years, or hand the former Massachusetts Governor the fate of a country that has long crossed the line of economic recession into territories uncharted since the Great Depression in 1929. Romney, the archetypal American elite with ample wealth, lifestyle and language so detached from the average American is doing his very best to exploit Obama’s failing to rescue the currently tattered, and largely struggling economy. The recovery, despite the hype, is still lacking at best. With a large and growing deficit, and unrelenting government borrowing, prospects for the future remain dim.
“Economic growth has never been weaker in a post-war recovery. Consumer spending has never been so slack. Only once has job growth been slower,” wrote Paul Wiseman, in the Huffington Post (August 15). These were his thoughts on a thorough analysis produced by the Associated Press, which concluded that Obama-championed recovery since 2009 has been the weakest of all 10 US recessions since World War II.
The recession dates back to 2007-2008, and theories abound on what ignited the chain reaction which set back the US economic growth and cost numerous jobs. Republicans often wish to omit the eight-year legacy of former President George W Bush with massive military expenditure.
Democrats, on the other issue, are focusing their strategy on dividing their campaign messages between the economy (placing the recovery within generally upbeat news of positive economic indicators) and other issues that matter to large sectors of American society, such as health care, abortion, immigration, civil rights, and so on. With the economy continuing to follow an impulsive line of logic, both parties are still busy defining the very problems facing their nation, leaving the task of devising real solutions, if any, to a later date.
Unmistakable is the heavy sense of disappointment felt by many Americans. Long gone is the ‘hope and change’ fervor of Obama’s last election campaign. Democrats are no longer offering sensational answers; it’s mostly about braving the difficult journey ahead. Republicans, seem more united by their own aversion of Obama than their affinity to Romney. The latter’s lack of consistency, inability to form and stanchly defend a cohesive vision, and clearly expressed disinterest in 47 per cent of American voters (per a leaked video recording) makes him hardly the long-awaited savior.
More, disorganized and divided Republicans between traditional conservatives, Tea Party supporters, religious zealots, among others are hardly ready for the coveted ‘landslide’, as boldly anticipated by Keith Edwards in the American Thinker (October 02).
The importance of the elections is barely accentuated by the political forte or aptitudes of its main candidates, but by the historic transition that the United States is currently undergoing, not just within the realm of the devastated economy, but in its global standing as well.
The timing of the Middle East’s own transition – exemplified by ongoing revolutions, political upheavals and civil wars – couldn’t be any more challenging or inopportune. Just as US foreign policy was reconsidering neoconservative war wisdom, momentous events throughout the Middle East are wreaking havoc on an already disorderly American retreat. Unable to completely shift from its militant policy of old, the Obama administration is trying to weather the storm, at least until the elections are over.
In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed on October 1, Romney recharged, with the hope of challenging mounting accusations that see his foreign policy expertise as deficient and misguided. “Our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them,” he wrote, once more demanding action against Iran, even more US support of Israel, and greater intervention in Syria, Libya and elsewhere. His administration, he said, will “encourage liberty and opportunity” to replace extremism in the Middle East.
Although some real differences may be underscored between both candidates on various issues in the Middle East, both are strong supporters of Israel, both tirelessly vying for the support of the strong pro-Israel lobby in Washington. Obama, however, refuses to concede to Israeli demands of agreeing on ‘redlines’ on Iran’s supposed quest for a nuclear bomb. Romney is exploiting that diversion to the maximum.
For once, however, there is little that Middle Eastern countries can expect from the outcome of the upcoming elections. The region seems propelled by its own dynamics, despite insistent US attempts at intervening or meddling to ‘shape outcomes’ of ongoing conflict. Equally important, regardless of who will reside in the White House, the sluggish economy and the fear of getting entangled in new military adventures, will likely redefine future US relations to the region.
– Ramzy Baroud (ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story. (This article was originally published in Gulf News.)