Wednesday 24 October 2012

Obama, Romney and George McGovern

By dying within weeks of a US Presidential Election George McGovern may have done America, and the rest of us, a great favour.  In the 1972 election McGovern was thrashed by Richard Nixon, largely because of  McGovern's opposition to the war in Vietnam.  Now that Americans have the benefit of hindsight, they may like to reflect that the idealistic peace-nick is to be preferred to the aggressive belligerent.

In the present election it would be over-generous  to dub Mr Obama as a peace-nick, but he certainly has ideals, for the US and the world, which most humanitarians share.  By contrast Romney's position on the aggressive right of the political spectrum, which secured him the Republican nomination, and which he now shamelessly modifies because the polls indicate he needs to appeal to the centre ground, speaks ill both for those Americans at the bottom of the pile and for the peace and security of the rest of the world.

Polls show that, whereas the rest of the world overwhelmingly supports the re-election of President Obama, in the US, where it counts, the candidates are neck and neck.  Maybe the closeness of the campaign is, as one commentator has suggested, exaggerated by the media in order to keep up the excitement and sell more papers, and in the end we shall see an overwhelming Obama victory.

I hope so, but am not so sure.  I was in the US during the Carter - Reagan campaign in 1980 and had no doubts that Carter was a pretty good president and would win hands down against the inadequate Reagan.  But poor Carter was damned by the failure, for which he could hardly be blamed, (though for which he would undoubtedly have claimed the credit had it succeeded) of a raid to rescue 52 American hostages held in Tehran.  The couple with whom I was staying at the time, both dedicated Christians, are now unreservedly enthusiastic about ex -President Carter's good works since he was forced from office, and conveniently forget that one of them voted for Reagan.

Electorates can act very illogically, so fingers crossed.


  1. Obama may be the better of the two contenders but he has been a disappointment as president.
    The killing of Bin laden was hardly a liberal move, nor are the drones he is increasingly using. Guantanamo is still open. The hopes and idealism of four years ago did not last long. Health care rerom, yes - but what else?

  2. You're right of course: Obama in practice has hardly been the knight in liberal armour that many of his more enthusiastic supporters, both in the US and the rest of the world, hoped for. Like turning round the Queen Mary, I suspect that changing the course of US politics is more difficult than it looks, especially without a majority in Congress.

    The sad thing is that many of those idealists who voted for Obama in 2008 may well stay at home in disappointment, and thus let in Romney by default.

    We Liberals will have to get used to the idea that some of our support is pretty faint-hearted. Here in the UK in the last General Election in 2010 the Liberal Democrats polled 23% of the vote (not all that far behind Labour with 29%) but, if the polls are to be believed, about a third of that support has now deserted us. Perhaps the encouraging thing is that, in spite of the biassed press, the difficulties of being in a minority of 57 to 306 in Parliament and some pretty silly decisions and statements at the top, two thirds stick with us.

    As for the US, we must hope that the faint hearts rally to Obama at the last minute. Brilliant leadership of the hurricane crisis may give him his chance.