Back in 2008, several prominent Conservatives (who should have known better), including Alan Duncan and Dan Hannan, decided inexplicably to back Obama against John McCain (remember John McCain?). This despite the fact that John McCain was clearly more committed to conservative values than, say, David Cameron is. I’m not sure where Alan Duncan is on 2012, but I’m pleased to see that Dan, at least, has seen the error of his ways.
I have no idea who is going to win tomorrow. Certainly the BBC has made up its mind — the coverage seems to be assuming an Obama win. “Still too close to call nationally, but Obama has a steady lead in the key battleground states”. Certainly our left/liberal establishment (and that of the EU) would be rocked to the core by a Romney win.
I’d like to see Romney win, first of all because I see Obama dragging the USA down the slippery slope to an EU-style welfare state decline. Obama, putting populist compassion ahead of affordability and fiscal probity. Obama, speaking occasionally about the towering US deficit — but with no sense of urgency.
I am struck by the dog that didn’t bark in this campaign. “Climate Change” hardly got a mention — apart from a rather eccentric intervention from Mayor Bloomberg, which failed to resonate. Meantime the Al Gore faction (remember Al Gore?) are horrified that their pet hobby horse seems to have fallen at the first fence. Of course CO2 emissions in the USA are coming down faster than they are in the EU — but that’s driven by shale gas and pricing pressure, not by lunatic green legislation.
Romney is not the perfect Republican candidate. Ronald Reagan he ain’t. But then he ain’t Obama either, which is why he gets my vote. I like Romney’s mantra about “more jobs, more take-home pay”. Certainly “more take-home pay” will play better than “lower taxes”, although it means much the same thing.
Obama is a very curious President. Detached and academic. Sometimes described as “isolated”. He reminds me of an adage from my private sector days: “You hire an articulate manager, and six months later you realise that all he can do is articulate”. You want an orator? Vote for Obama. You want a competent President with ideas for reviving the American economy? Maybe Romney is a better choice.
So is there still hope for Romney, despite those battleground state polls? I think so. They say that hurricane Sandy gave the President an opportunity to shine, and eclipsed Romney. But Sandy hit the predominantly Democrat Eastern Seaboard, and I think that a fair number of residents who suffered from the storm may have more pressing worries than voting on Tuesday. Quite a number of them are still waiting for electricity to be restored (or waiting in gas lines). They may well lack enthusiasm for the status quo.
There is no doubt that in 2008, Obama’s election represented a sort of catharsis for the American people — finally drawing a line under the sorry history of racial prejudice in America. An affirmation of the American dream — look, a black guy can be President! (Though so far, not a woman — maybe 2016?). And a good thing too. But the fact is, America has now ticked that box, and may not feel the pressing need to tick it again. Obama’s poll ratings are holding up quite well amongst ethnic minorities, but turnout could suffer in this key group.
To such straws do the hopes of Romney supporters cling. But the fact remains that in 2012, Obama was an unknown but charismatic quantity, promising change. In 2012, he has a lacklustre record that he doesn’t seem too keen to talk about. As even the BBC’s Andrew Marr has asked, “Whatever happened to Hope?”.
Obama or Romney? We’ll know on Wednesday.