The Presidential Debate was shockingly bad. Obama was bad, but so was Romney, he just didn’t show it. He presented himself as a moderate and wooed the middle classes, but showed total lack of understanding for the economic system.
We all agree that the middle classes have had a rough time. This has been going on for over 30 years, neither Romney nor Obama have taken the blame for both of their parties’ hand in this. Romney doesn’t want big businesses to get taxed because people would lose their jobs, but it’s ok for people working for the government to lose their jobs. The problem is that he doesn’t get that:
1. big businesses are acting as near monopolies (it happens when capitalism is not regulated;
2. the small businesses everybody loves are regularly eaten up by big corporations;
3. the economic system is not a level playing field, so taxes and regulations are there to make it a little fairer.
4. If infrastructure (e.g. trains) is not there (trust me, they are terrible & expensive) or if health provision is appalling (45,000 people a year die due to lack of insurance), people cannot participate in the economy.
Obama did not simply struggle with presentation, but with substance too. He appealed to protectionism, camouflaged as ‘economic patriotism’, instead of reaching back to the traditional healthy American pragmatism of making things work. The American political party system seems to have fallen prey to the very mechanisms that have been suffocating the middle classes. For the past thirty years, both the Republicans and Democrats, in the belief that ‘private is best’, have sacrificed the middle classes to the gods of big corporations that fund their parties.
I have recently spent a month in the various parts of the US taking copious ‘sociological’ notes. I met people from different strands of life, different ethnicities, ages and places. They struck me as informed, acutely aware of the challenges facing the country. I do not claim the sample to be in any way representative and significant, but it left me thinking that the political class is underestimating the American people.
Obama could finally show the ‘change’ he preached by taking the blame for his party’s hand in the making of the crisis and talk about what he has done to overcome it. He should talk about the change that can be made to the economic system so to restore competition, provide a safety net for people and open doors to immigration. That will make America rise again economically and culturally. It will make it live up to its most sacred dream: that of freedom.