The Divided States of America – a Canadian Perspective on the U.S. Election
Mercifully, the U.S. election is in its final days. As a Canadian with friends, family, colleagues and clients in the United States, it has been distressing to watch the talk shows, debates and the steady bombardment of election ads on television.
There is no doubt that Mitt Romney and Barrack Obama are two very intelligent, gifted people. Their respective parties each have a vague plan to restore America to its rightful place as the leader of the free world. Regrettably, neither party has provided a detailed substantive roadmap on how they would reduce the deficit and put Americans back to work. The reasons for this are simple. Every policy statement offered by one party would be parsed and ripped apart by the other party. There is safety in being vague. Even worse, the Republican plan, if you can really call it a plan, would likely increase the size of the U.S. deficit and be of most benefit to affluent Americans, those who are least in need of more financial perks.
Also troubling is the fact that the party leaders and pundits cannot acknowledge any value in their opponent’s program. Each party demonizes the other with misstatements, half-truths and exaggerations that make the level of political discourse very negative and unpleasant. America is very a polarized and divided country. Almost every poll shows the two leaders in a virtual dead heat. Millions of dollars are being spent in a handful of “swing” states and in a select group of counties where a small number of so-called undecided voters control the fate of the election. After four and a half hours of debates, hundreds of hours of chatter on television and radio and millions of words in the social media, is there anyone truly “undecided” at this late stage?
The election appears to be based on two polarized versions of the past four years. If one believes that President Obama was faced with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and that he did everything possible to stimulate jobs, protect U.S. autoworkers, provide universal health care and keep America safe, you will vote for the President. If you buy into the scenario that President Obama and the Democrats could have done a better job of stewarding the economy during this period, that employment would have been higher and gas prices lower under a Republican administration, that the social policies proposed by the Democrats are too radical, that universal health care is too rich for America and that it is time for a change, you will vote Republican. The few undecided voters ultimately have to accept one of these distorted views of reality. Neither one of these scenarios is an accurate reflection of the current state of America.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I live in Canada and have to deal with our own very troubled political realities. Sadly, we lost one of our best political leaders to illness and lost one of our major political parties to a series of inept leaders and policies. The son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, a young and inexperienced man, may end up becoming its leader and face the very difficult task of resurrecting the fortunes of the Liberal party against a very crafty Stephen Harper, Canada’s current Prime Minister - - a very tall order. We have our own problems in Canada.
But looking south, I see the election this way. President Obama is a very hard-working, dedicated family man who understands much better than Governor Romney, the plight of middle class Americans. If he remains President, he and his party will likely reap the rewards of the low interest rate, stimulus initiatives that have been in place the past few years. He is focusing on the right things – education, affordable health care, the middle class and addressing the fiscal cliff through a combination of cost reductions and tax increases for those most able to pay more. This plan makes sense to me, more sense than the tax reduction, no revenue increase, cancel Obamacare policies of the Republicans. I believe his policies will be better for the economies of the United States and Canada. I also believe that his policies will be better for the transportation industry that is of most concern to me and my clients.
I endorse President Obama for re-election. I hope many Americans will weigh their options and make the right choice on Nov. 6. Good Luck.