There will no doubt be a great deal of analysis and varying interpretations of the US election outcome. Having watched the debates, and the policy arguments and political fighting from afar, I gained some impressions that I thought I’d share. I don’t have any political axe to grind here, just sharing my impressions.
Firstly, I thought the mix of people at the two party’s election night events was an interesting contrast: at the Republican event in Boston, most people seemed to be white, whereas the Democratic event in Chicago was a diverse mix of ethnic groups more representative, I thought, of the US.
Second, I felt that while he came across as a nice guy and family man, Mitt Romney was a little loose on the policy. He had changed his stance on many issues over the years, and was still changing or hedging his responses to policy issues during the debates and afterwards. I felt as an observer that he was trying to please everyone, and especially his funding backers and the party.
Third, while Obama had not delivered a way out of the economic doldrums as fast as everyone would like, he had delivered on some key things. Getting Bin Laden was something Bush wasn’t able to do while being diverted with Iraq. And it seemed to be extremely poor sportsmanship by those on the right to refuse to acknowledge Obama’s decision to give the go-ahead on the raid. Obama also was more decisive and clearer about what he stood for, even if you disagreed with him.
Finally, many commentators talked about the way the GOP has been taken over by Tea Partiers and right wingers. Romney still got around 49% of the popular vote. But there were policies being put forward that smacked of only caring about the rich, writing off 47% of the people and giving tax breaks for the rich at a time of economic weakness. While the US focus on free enterprise is one of its fundamental strengths, most countries outside the US have a more supportive attitude towards those less well off, and the Republicans appear to need a broader appeal with policies that are not as hard-hearted.
Obama has won a second term in difficult circumstances, and this should allow him a reasonable mandate to pursue his stated national policies. If the Republican House continues to tread the partisan path and block wherever it can, it will only further delay the economic recovery which is reliant upon the psychological spirit and will of the people in the US, even more so than on the specific policies of government. And all the world is praying that you guys in the States get your act together and get back to leading the world, instead of bickering and being divided and weak. Best wishes for the next four years.