Архив за август, 2007

30 август, 07

Obama vs. Mccain

Категория: Стари публикации

Barack Obama is officially the Democratic candidate in the USA Presidential Elections. This became apparent on Wednesday evening after delegates attending the Democratic National Convention voted in favor of his candidacy. Shortly after, they unilaterally chose Joseph Biden for the position of vice president hopeful. The official nomination of the Obama-Biden pair occurred on the third day of the convention, which started on August 25th in Denver, Colorado. There in several consecutive days representatives of the Democratic Party delivered remarkable speeches in favor of the presidential candidacy of the Afro-American senator of Illinois. Pivotal points in the program included the addresses of the Clinton Family. On Tuesday, a clear support for Obama was expressed by his recent intra-party opponent Hilary Clinton, and on Wednesday her message was reiterated by former US president Bill Clinton.

The meaning of these two speeches was more than clear – following one of the toughest  internal races it is time that party unity is demonstrated, which will consolidate the support of the Democratic voters before  the election day on November 4th. According to political theory one of the most challenging periods in a democratic system is the time directly following a political election. Then the candidate/candidates who have lost the race need to accept the victory of their opponents, thus acknowledging the will of the voters, confirming the democratic value of the election before their constituencies, and reaffirming that political processes need to continue according to the established democratic rules. This is exactly what Hilary and Bill Clinton achieved. Without demonstrating a trace of resentment towards the result of the Primaries, they bet on political dignity and consideration of the Democrats unity only, firmly supporting Barack Obama.  Such a conduct is habitual for American political tradition. A conduct which is now particularly needed in the Democratic Party, because, as Bill Clinton joked, “The campaign generated so much heat it increased global warming.”

Many political analysts, supported by sociological data, continue claiming that a portion of the democratic supporters, which were in favor of Hilary Clinton in the primary race will not appear at the polls this fall or might even vote for the republican candidate. It is a fact, that the approval of John McCain among the Republicans is far more unitary than that for Obama among the Democrats. This split in positions seems to apply not only within the party, but throughout the US. Although so far Obama has been having a slight advantage in the preferences of the US votes, his candidacy continuously gives rise to contradicting opinions in Americans. At a time of deepening economic depression and increasing the gap between the various social and ethnic groups in the country, such polarization can set up hidden “mines” to be activated in the future. Back in the first article on the topic of US elections in this blog I wrote about what, in my opinion, will be the difficulties which the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama will face. What fuels the perpetuation of contradicting opinions on him most, however, is not so much his ethnic origin, or his lack of political experience, but above all, his ideas are far too left for most Americans.

Back in the beginning of March, I wrote that with Obama’s nomination for presidential candidate a “portion of more conservative democrats will probably become hesitant.” This expectation is confirmed by the data of the last Gallup sociological survey. It points exactly that even if he increases his affiliates among the left and moderate democrats, Obama is gradually losing the trust of constituencies with more right convictions:

source: Gallup (

It is interesting that according to  surveys from the same agency, published yesterday,  the reason, according to the average US citizen, that allows Obama to surpass his opponent (58% for Obama vs 33% for McCain) is that he “cares about the needs of people like me.” The display of such concern both across the ocean and here is traditionally looked upon favorably by the citizens with more left convictions, expecting the state to play an active role in the maintenance of their welfare. This is probably why the liberal intelligentsia, concentrated in the university centers and the big cities, as well as the young educated people living on the US East and West Coasts support Obama, attracted by his charisma. This support, however, will likely not be sufficient for victory, since the major part of America consist of a more conservative population, for whom certain traditional stereotypes continue to be a main factor for their political choice. Despite Obama’s charisma, which attracts some groups, McCain’s perceived strong and determined character should not be underestimated in its ability to appeal to other sizable groups of US citizens. John McCain has a considerable advantage in the perspective of Americans as commander in chief (80% vs 53%), as well as a stronger and more decisive leader (48% vs 40%). Perhaps these characteristics (an “iron” fist) hide the reason for the growing trust towards the republican in the days when the Georiga-Russian conflict escalated and the acts of Russian leaders have led towards a firmer US position.

At the end of the day, my opinion is that in the current economic situation, Americans will find it hard to accept the implementation of many of Obama’s left ideas and visions for social policy. However, knowing the Bush administration’s foreign policy, it can be predicted that Vietnam hero McCain will adopt similar philosophy of unilateral actions, counting more on military power than on international negotiations. I believe that with Russia’s current conduct, the US and the EU, and for that matter the entire world, need a US president who can maintain the proportion of powers on a global scale. It is obvious, that this cannot be achieved solely by tough position and military might, and needs to be combined with the power of international cooperation and diplomacy. As Bill Clinton said in his speech yesterday, Obama “will work for an America with more partners and fewer adversaries. He will rebuild our frayed alliances and revitalize the international institutions which help to share the costs of the world’s problems and to leverage our power and influence.” The question is whether the already official Democratic candidate will succeed to convince, in the remaining months, the American voters in the benefits of such policy. At this stage, despite that at party level the preferences of US citizens after an eight-year republican rule are considerably pro-democratic, at a personal level the battle between Obama and McCain still has no clear leader and the difference between them varies between 1% and 4%. It seems that the republican candidate has yet to accelerate. After all, this close race demonstrates that US citizens still have the option to choose between alternative figures and policies, although many claim that no de facto democracy is left in the US. This choice is part of the real, not façade democracy, which we can see in other countries, claiming to be world powers.

P.S. The US presidential election has become more interesting following the recent news that McCain has chosen a women as his vice presidential candidate.