Obama vs Romney: The War for Popularity

So far, the current President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and his opponent in the presidential election, Mitt Romney, have debated each other twice on television. It does not take much reflection to notice that these so-called debates are completely devoid of substance. In the latest debate, both candidates talked extensively about what they – Obama as President, Romney as governor of Massachusetts – have achied and what they intended to achieve in the future. One of the central topics both candidates covered in terms of both the past and the future was the creation of jobs. Jobs, however, are not and, indeed, can not be created by the President. The President is not a dictator, and even if he were, he would not be able to create jobs all by himself. In a capitalist nation, jobs are created either by private companies, or by the state in the public sector. Both candidates asserted that they intended to both create and keep jobs within the United States of America. Yet this is at best utopian and at worst completely infeasible. On a globalized free market, private companies will always seek to maximize their profits. The highest profits can be made most easily by employing the smallest number of workers possible that work as long as possible for the smallest wages possible. At the same time, the companies will attempt to increase the production rate. Since, however, eternal growth of a market is impossible unless there are infinitely many customers or consumers, at some point, the profit rates cannot be increased any more. As companies will want to increase them, nonetheless, they will release employees and cut the wages for the rest. If there are other countries where people will work for lower wages and under worse conditions in general, companies will shift their production to these countries, of course. Compared to wealthy nations such as the United States of America, Germany, and France, where relatively high wages have to be paid, other nations such as China or India offer, from the perspective of companies, better conditions for production.1 In addition, politicians and the authorities have made themselves even more vulnerable to blackmail by companies and corporations over the last two decades than they used to be, anyway. Besides, neither candidate said how, exactly, he wants to achieve his aims, although this is the most interesting and most important question.
In fact, the entire concept of these so-called debates is really but a popularity contest. As Mumia Abu-Jamal writes in his column in the German newspaper Junge Welt (Young World), these debates are only public relations events and instruments for the purpose of manipulating the masses by producing a certain image of the politicians involved.1 But even considering that the President of the United States of America is just one piece in the puzzle of politics, policies, and authorities, Barack Obama is only the lesser of two evils. Needless to say, in comparison to Mitt Romney, Obama is a progressive, yet to be such is admittedly not too difficult. We must take into consideration that under Obama, the aggressive foreign policy that began under George Walker Bush has continued. Apparently, we face a new age of imperialism. The difference between Obama and Romney with respect to foreign policy is that the former puts it in nicer words. What, on the other hand, actually happens within the United States of America does not depend so much upon who is the President but rather upon the constellation of the entire government and the majorities in both houses of Congress, that is to say, in the Senate (the upper house) and the House of Representatives (the lower house). And yet, the presidential elections are believed by many people to be the most important political election – which is what is intended, of course.
In sum, neither the fate of the United States of America nor that of the rest of the world entirely depend upon the presidential election. The war for popularity between Obama and Romney is but a spectacle to distract the people from what is going on – not even behind the curtain but before our very eyes. Finally, if I were a citizen of the United States of America, I should give my vote neither Obama nor Romney but Roseanne Barr. She has the most progressive views of all presidential candidates. Unfortunately, I deem it highly unlikely that she will stand a chance against the former two.

1. I take it for granted that this is a much simplified description of the processes involved.
2. Confer: Kolumne von Mumia Abu-Jamal: ‘Im Dienst der Herrschenden’; Junge Welt, Sonnabend/Sonntag, 20./21. Oktober 2012, Nr. 245; p. 6.


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