It is very, very early in the 2012 presidential election cycle, and not useful to make, prognostications, but the rapid re-polarization of the electorate (it is only 15 months since Barack Obama was sworn in as president) enables some provisional observations possibly worth remembering at a later date.
We all know the conventional rules of American politics, and how rapidly reversals of public opinion often take place, usually provoked by two main causes: 1. Dramatic change of domestic economic conditions, either for the better or worse; and 2. Sudden international events or developments which directly affect the United States.
In mid-2010 America we have the following condition: a first-term president who is pursuing a radical agenda in both domestic and foreign policy. When I say “radical,” I do not mean automatically that it is bad or wrong. Sometimes, I think, “radical” changes fit the need of the times. But if a radical agenda is enacted, it must be perceived as successful and rally popular support, especially in the more independent political center of the electorate. President Obama entered office facing an economic crisis of significant dimensions. Instead of employing the successful strategies of lowering or stabilizing taxes and reducing government deficits of his recent Democratic predecessors, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, Mr. Obama has chosen to raise taxes and increase deficits. This is not only a “radical” strategy, it has not ever worked in U.S. before, except briefly in wartime. This is the European model which centralizes the economy, raises taxes, but provides a wide range of welfare services to the general population. Ironically, in most European nations where this model originated and was developed over decades, the strategy has been notably modified or abandoned as it, long-term, inhibited growth, entrepreneurship and innovation; and has failed economically.
Of course, “growth, entrepreneurship and innovation” are not deep-seeded Europeanprinciples. That continent has not enjoyed continual democratic governments foralmost 250 years, and it has been the site for persistent and brutal warfare, as well as economic upheaval until almost recently. In short, most Europeans have become used to being told what to do or think by their leaders over the past 1000 years. To be sure, the European Union has seemed to be a step to avoid the worst problems of the past, but the EU creators are attempting to take the potentially positive idea of an economic union to the point of political union, something that simply is not going to happen in a continent of so many different languages, religions and cultural traditions. To complicate everything, Europe has now opened its doors to waves of immigrants who are hostile to the various religious and cultural identities of its member states, and these immigrants are now so numerous, and growing so fast, they threaten, in a relatively short time, the demographic and social integrity of what
has been built over a millenium.
European intellectual elite thinking (most of it advocating socialist or far left views),however, has dominated the U.S. educational establishment, especially at the university level, for decades. This is the environment from which President Obama comes, and where his “radical strategy” originates.
In spite of the reality that Europe has lived off U.S. military protection for 60 years, as well as America’s superpower economy, its entrepreneurship and innovation, much of Europe has a chronic self-image (and delusion) that it remains the center of the world, and this image is unfortunately swallowed whole and perpetuated by American university faculty elites who, in turn, imperiously have tried to impose their ideas on their students.
It unfortunately has followed that Europe, twice rescued from depravity and disaster by the U.S. in the 20th century, grew to resent its benefactor and that nation’s real power. As the world economy has evolved, and the super-populated nations of China and India adopted the American model of capitalism, it has become more and more clear that U.S. global economic dominance, as known in the 20th century, was gradually coming to an end. The United States of America and its global polices became unpopular even among its allies and beneficiaries.
It is this “unpopularity” which President Obama and his supporters are now responding to in U.S. foreign policy. Our major allies (Great Britain, Israel and new democratic nations everywhere) are being “re-evaluated,” and our enemies are being courted. The problem with this courtship is that our enemies have no intention of “marrying” us. In fact, they want to, figuratively and literally, kill us.
These are not political strategies with good prospects for President Obama. He is fighting economic reality and human nature at its most basic level. Anything can happen, but it would seem that after this coming November, he will have to decide on new strategies. If he does not, the main question of the 2012 presidential election would not be who will be the Republican nominee, but who might be, after his party rejects their own incumbent, the Democratic nominee.