Friday, October 19, 2012

American politics.

Let me tell you a secret- no matter who wins the American presidential election the world will not end. Regardless of what is being said right now, with either Obama or Romney we should not expect any major shift in governmental policies. Yes, the country may shift slightly to the left or right, highlight some issues over other, but nothing drastic is ever happening in spite of the political background of the person in office. One thing that I've always admired in American politics as changes at the helm happen is this overall sense of continuity. And one thing I've always found amazing is that no matter how cut throat both politicians may be and however trying to appease their base they always seem to gravitate to the center a bit once elected on their harshest ideas. I don't get to vote in these elections. I will just be affected by the outcome. For now, media try to build it up as " a really big deal", all my friends take it really personally, some attack each other and defriend on Facebook as if the morning after one is picked over the other we were to wake up in some entirely different world. Some claim to plan to leave the country after Obama is elected. A drunk student on a bus was telling me that  he's moving abroad if Romney gets the job.  How will it affect everyone's everyday life? Chances are, not so much. Is it worth losing a friend over? Can you undo the hurt and unspeak the words spoken? Four years ago, my black Republican friend told me he would vote for Obama. And I couldn't understand it. 'Watch and see- he said- there's not much difference between McCain and Obama". And to an extent he was right. The president continued some of his predecessors politics, kept Guantanamo Bay open, though he said he wouldn't and got US involved in a few fresh military conflicts right after winning the Nobel Peace Prize.  He was firmer on immigration than a lot of his predecessors, which typically is part of the  Republican platform. Not only do I mean deportation statistics  but policy and paperwork that universities dealing with international  students now produce.Within the two party system there's not only no room for fresh ideas, as they become more and more a like, but each include supporters with views that often differ more within one party than between moderates across the isle. Having only two candidates not only means that you will never find one that matches your world view exactly, but also that you need to prioritize issues that are important to you and compromise on others. Do you care more about low taxes, gay marriage or abortion? And if you care about all those issues can the other candidate hurt them less within the likely tools at his disposal.

A recent Warsaw Business Journal poll shows that only 38% of Polish people approve of Barack Obama. They will of course not be electing the American president so you can dismiss that statistic as irrelevant. I'm a Pole and it matters to me. And I think it signals a problem for the US in the international arena. American presidents have long showed very little understanding of Europe's history, protocol and customs, but maybe don't have have to- across the pond they live in their own universe. I guess USA is a big and powerful country matters regardless of how little regard it has for its faithful allies. Barack Obama scrapped the Bush planned missile shield in Poland, which was intended to provide us additional security. As a country squeezed in between Germany and Russia for centuries craving any additional ounce of security we can get. He didn't visit my homeland until much later in his presidency, which in diplomatic circles was read as high disregard. In turn, Lech Walesa, the legendary leader of Solidarity refused to meet with him. He also called Auschwitz a Polish deathcamp, all while presenting a World War II survivor with a medal. Media and politicians demanded an apology, which the President has yet to make. I think he just doesn't understand the gravity of his words and that Polish government devoted significant resources into tracking and correcting false accounts of WWII history, linking Poland to Nazi Germany, lumping the victim and aggressor together. But then, my Republican friends  don't understand what the big deal is either. Must be an American thing. They also were surprised with the outrage at Michelle Obama for putting her arm around the British Queen, which was not something the protocol allowed.  Mitt Romney has problems of his own. He visited Poland on the other hand prematurely, before elected, part of this campaign. He's not a head of state, yet he gets other countries involved in his internal, American affairs. And he used Lech Walesa for a photo op. Barack Obama last time around was also visiting places in Europe to get a campaign boost making other governments quite uncomfortable.  The funny thing is, Obama is attacking Romney for his international gaffes while having a share of his own.

Obama is not that liberal, Romney isn't that conservative. When he came out in support of gay marriage, the President felt very uncomfortable about it, as if the statement was forced out of him. For most of his career Mitt Romney was running as a socially liberal Republican. In his debate with Ted Kennedy he famously identified himself as further on the left than he was on gay rights. Now he seems to run not so much against Obama, but his former self. In a series of ad campaigns for Barack Obama, I've heard that Mitt Romney wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, and take away women's  right to choose. I'm surprised, that Obama, a former constitutional law professor would ever allow such nonsense in his campaign. It implies that overturning abortion rights would be easy and in president's power to do. The statement was lifted from a point that Romney made in 2007 saying that if presented, he would sign a bill limiting abortion rights. That is surprising as well, given that the challenger received a juris doctor, so he must understand that bill that "overturns" Roe v. Wade faces constitutionality issues after he signs it. One thing he didn't say he would do is actively pursuing undoing  that holding. He didn't say he wants a Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit abortion (and he would never get the required majority), or that he would replace Supreme Court Justices to vote accordingly if such issue  ever reappeared before the Court. I can't even think of a scenario where somebody sues and meets all the legal requirements of a proper case for someone having a right to abortion. The Court rarely simply reversed itself at when it did it was mostly in support of individual rights not against it.Besides: The beauty of the Supreme Court is this: You can't predict how the justices will vote regardless of who picked them, some of the Reagan and Bush nominees proved more moderate than expected. I guess you could eliminate funding or slow down procedures if you really wanted to, but Romney never said he would. The other argument that I hear a lot is him reinstating the Clinton era "Don't ask Don't tell" policy, which because it was done via executive order he could technically do. The approach promoted gay servicemen to keep their sexuality hidden otherwise they'd face dismissal. I can see the cavalcade of law suits from men and women in duty who came out with former administration's blessing only to be dismissed under Romney. People's lives and interests would be hurt. You can't undo it, once you did it.

A lot of things being said and done with one purpose only. To have voters come out, to have them excited, to have them turn up. For Democrats it's: they're taking away our civil rights! For Republicans it's: they're disposing of our morals, taking our property! While it's unlikely people switch sides, if they don't see in them men of principle , they simply stay at home. Whoever wins will be charged with the mission of uniting Americans under one leadership. Because if there's one thing they're capable of doing it's standing behind the President. They argue and fight now. Yet the day after election, all will be back to normal.


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