US Elections 2008
Political trends during the American election race, 2008.
Obama managed some genuinely inspiring lines about the productivity of American workers and the inventiveness of American minds, but in the short term at least it is the borrowing power of the American state that he’ll be drawing on in a bid to recover the US economy, and by extension the world economy.
Obama’s economic team is stacked with, er, economists. Bringing in ‘the experts’ is presented as preferable to being governed by ‘ideology’, but this is to put a lot of faith in the ‘dismal science’.
As is usually the case, the final presidential debate was a competition to seem more ‘presidential’ than the other guy. In these terms, Obama won, confirming his frontrunner status, but rather undermining his claim to represent substantial change.
McCain’s choice of the words ‘you-know-what’ might indicate more than coyness. For all the candidates’ eagerness to have out a vigorous debate, it is still not clear exactly what is at stake in the campaign. McCain’s and Obama’s tentative strategies for dealing with the financial crisis resemble competing brands rather than representing competing worldviews.
To the extent that the banking crisis has become an election issue, it concerns the generic character traits of the candidates, and their perceived ability to handle ‘a crisis’, not any political differences in terms of ‘this crisis’.
While the red-blue divide is still conventionally seen as a sublimated or distorted form of the left-right divide, it is becoming increasingly apparent that ‘culture’, or more accurately lifestyle, is all that’s left.