Counting will shortly commence in the United States to determine whether Barack Obama will be re-elected, or whether Mitt Romney will become the 45th President of the United States. And whilst The Red And The Blue endorses the Republican Romney, we also believe he is likely to be elected.
Had Hillary Clinton edged out Barack Obama in the knife-edged contest for the Democratic nomination to contest the presidency in 2008 — and gone on to preside over the same administration Obama has — this column believes that Clinton would, today, be staring down the barrel of a 50-state landslide defeat at the hands of Romney.
The fact today’s election is competitive at all has everything to do with the “star quality,” or the “magic,” of Barack Obama, and little to do with the record of his administration.
Obama — elected four years ago, in the depths of the worst recession to hit the US since the 1930s — has been a serial underperformer, and a disappointment; overall unemployment figures in the US are only fractionally lower than they were in 2008, and only then because millions of Americans have given up looking for work.
The once-mighty American economy is growing at a snail’s pace; and US prestige abroad, on Obama’s watch, is undergoing its most serious decline since that country’s humiliation in the fiasco of its Vietnam war effort.
US debt has increased by 60% in four years, to US$16 trillion, at the same time as Obama has been preoccupied with “Obamacare” and other grand gestures of the socialist Left, whose bona fides as ideals are beyond reproach, but which lack utterly any meaningful or practical import when implemented as actual measures.
And Obama has been a risk to international relations and to world stability; his persistent snub to Israel — whilst courting the fundamentalist regimes in its backyard — are a good example. His apparent determination to resume the policy of “splendid isolation” practised by the USA prior to the second world war is another.
There is also ample evidence that Obama has refused — or is simply unable — to work with a hostile Congress to achieve meaningful legislative outcomes, or at least since his Democratic Party lost control of the House of Representatives two years ago.
Yet there is little — if any — evidence that Clinton would have done any better; indeed, with what Obama lacks in terms of a slate of real achievement to point to, he at least resonates on a personal level with ordinary Americans.
The abrasive Clinton — whilst highly respected for her abilities, and rightly so — can’t even claim that, and as a standard-bearer the same left-wing agenda as Obama, it is fair to say that a Clinton presidency over the past four years would have been an unmitigated disaster.
That said, Republican challenger Mitt Romney arrives at today’s moment of reckoning as something of an enigma in spite of the campaign, and as something of an unknown despite his record as a former Governor of Massachusetts.
On one level, Romney (or any other Republican challenger) should, by rights, arrive at the 2012 election with little if any entitlement to expect to win, given the mess the USA was in at the conclusion of the Presidency of George W. Bush four years ago.
Then again, the Republican message that the four years Obama has had is long enough to expect to see results is actually absolutely correct.
As I said at the outset, the fact today’s election is competitive at all has everything to do with Barack Obama personally, and were it a simple referendum on the results or otherwise of his administration, the Republicans would be in line to romp home.
Simply stated, the election is more about the two candidates; even many on the Left — in the US, here in Australia and elsewhere in the world — concede, to varying degrees, that Obama’s administration has underperformed.
Readers will know that this column originally backed former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich to contest this election against Obama, and whilst we believe Mitt Romney has fought the best campaign possible by a Republican candidate, his candidacy will be one of many subjects covered in a post-mortem review should Obama be re-elected today, especially if by a narrow margin.
Yet in endorsing Romney in a straight contest with Obama, it is his policy focuses on families, business and reordering US military priorities, backed by his expertise in business and his success as a Republican governor in Democratic-controlled Massachusetts, that we believe deserving of support from the US public.
And in regard to Barack Obama, we would make the simple observation that “social agendas” are well and good, but with the country teetering on the brink of bankruptcy — with government debt running at 107% of GDP, in large part the result of his own Presidency — “social agendas” are simply not the priority the Left, the world over, present them to be.
Little has been made during this campaign of Romney’s religious status as the first Mormon to contest the US presidency, and rightly so; we believe this to be irrelevant.
Similarly, and in spite of the best efforts of the likes of businessman Donald Trump, the so-called birther conspiracy surrounding Barack Obama has been the non-event it should be.
We endorse Mitt Romney to be elected today as the 45th President of the United States, and expect that he will be, although we agree with the conventional wisdom that the contest, as it plays out with actual votes rather than opinion poll results and whichever way resolved, will be exceedingly close.
Polls close progressively during the day, commencing on the east coast and including states such as New York at 7pm ET (10am AEDT), with results coming through over the ensuing hours.
We look forward to following the count as the day unfolds, and will comment again once the overall results become known and the outcome of the contest becomes clear.