I am not an American. Nor am I a Republican. I can come to US politics with the neutrality of the foreigner, knowing it’s not my personal business and knowing I do not have a vote. I also come to US politics knowing that what the US says and does still matters in the world. It falls to US citizens to hold the debate and make up their minds, but their actions will have an impact on us all.
In the run up to the last Presidential election I commented here on the skill of Mr Obama’s campaigning, and the attractions of his messages of hope and change. I personally liked his promise to close Guantanamo Bay and to move away from the excesses of some Neo Con interventions in other countries. I predicted he would win the nomination against Mrs Clinton, and predicted he would go on to win the Presidency.
Since he took office there has been disappointment. Many have felt their hopes dashed or dented by his actions and inactions. It proved too difficult to close Guantanamo Bay. Interventions in the Middle East continued. The economy has not performed as well as Americans would like. Obamacare has proved deeply divisive with his fellow countrymen and women.
Mr Romney and his advisers understand this mood. Mr Romney’s campaign launch speech on Wednesday repeatedly talked of a sense of disappointment and let down with the President. He summed it up by saying “You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as President when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him”
Crucial to the Romney offer is the ringing jibe which summarised his speech:
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family”
It will be interesting to see who now has the mood of the people. Mr Romney senses that high flown utopianism, whether green or otherwise, is no longer wanted. More people sense it does not work, or think it is not based on good science or cannot be achieved, whilst many think it has meant a worse deal for them. He offers them lower taxes and more reward for working. He offers them more jobs and better business conditions. He offers them cheaper energy.
The election is too close to call. My guess is Mr Obama has to come up with something new and special to counter this homespun appeal to voters’ self interest. Their self interest has, after all, taken a battering from recession and credit crunch. Maybe they don’t mind the fact that Mr Romney has made a lot of money in the past. They might like him to help them make some too.