July 13, 2012

Obama, Romney and the Fight for the White House

Ethan Young

In the battle for the White House, the predominant depiction by the media industry portrays the opposing camps of the Democratic incumbent, Barack Obama, and his Republican challenger, the multi-millionaire and former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, as irreconcilable. But are the political differences between them really as large as the media industry makes it seem?

Many things, such as the “view from below,” confirm this: based on both parties’ rank and file, there are in fact important differences regarding the future course of the country. In addition, the Tea Party movement has driven the already conservative Republican Party even further to the right, while on the other side of the political spectrum, Occupy Wall Street has put leftist issues, above all the growing social inequality, on the nation’s agenda.

However, a “view from above” presents a completely different image. Viewed from this angle, the candidates of both parties are neo-liberal politicians competing for the favors of the major corporations and, at best, differentiating themselves by representing different factions of U.S. capital. In comparison with what is politically necessary in view of the global social and ecological challenges, the programmatic differences shrink to a minimum.

However, there is another reason for the competition for the patronage of the elites: if past electoral battles for the presidency had already become billion-dollar mud baths, then the Supreme Court decision (“Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission”) of 2010 opened the gates for big capital to decisively influence the electoral process.

Ethan Young, author and activist from Brooklyn, New York, analyzes the political situation at the beginning of the heated phase of the election campaign. He also discusses the strengths and weaknesses of both candidates and parties in the context of the political developments of the last decade. He argues that a fundamental shift in the current state of affairs will only occur if the political vacuum on the left is finally filled again.