STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Compelling Election or Last Gasp of US Representative Democracy?
By Staff News & Analysis - October 15, 2012

As the U.S. prepares to vote, the world watches … America's friends around the globe are watching the presidential elections with a mixture of horror and hope. They are dismayed by the expense, the duration and the self-indulgence of an election campaign that does more to entertain and polarize Americans than to enlighten and galvanize them. Despite that, they hope the U.S. once again will confound its critics and produce the leadership and political will to confront a historic pivot point that is as crucial as World War Two's immediate aftermath. It is obvious to me, after recent trips to the Middle East and Europe, that despite all the talk about America's decline, the world's thought leaders consider the U.S. vote in November to be of great global significance – even though much of that was absent from President Obama and Governor Romney's first debate last week. – Frederick Kempe/Reuters

Dominant Social Theme: This is a transformative US election.

Free-Market Analysis: Reuters has posted an editorial from Frederick Kempe maintaining the importance of the upcoming US presidential elections.

We've noticed more and more discussion of the importance of this presidential election. It is seemingly being positioned in the mainstream media as a "transformative" one. Strangely, when we queried the word, we found more cites for 2008 related to the presidential elections at the time.

We never considered the 2008 elections transformative because they were held between a big government military man and a big government "community organizer." Also, John McCain was clearly not going to win. He was a polarizing candidate who didn't even appeal to the entire GOP base let alone the large population of so-called "swing voters."

Here's something from Kempe's bio at Reuters, "Frederick Kempe is president and CEO of the Atlantic Council. He previously spent more than twenty-five years as a reporter, columnist, and editor for The Wall Street Journal, where, among other roles, he served as chief diplomatic correspondent, Berlin bureau chief, and editor and associate publisher of the Journal's Europe edition."

The Atlantic Council is a prestigious mainstream think tank. According to Atlantic literature, it was founded in the early 1960s and initially populated by such distinguished American foreign policy leaders as "Dean Acheson, Dean Rusk, Christian Herter, Lucius Clay, and others … [It] developed an ambitious agenda to engage Americans with their European partners on matters of globalist concern."

From this, we can see the reason Kempe is writing from a globalist vantage point. Heading the Atlantic Council, he is positioned to report on international ramifications of US domestic policies. Here's some more from the article:

American debt has reached perilous proportions at a time when the ongoing euro zone crisis could turn even nastier. Meanwhile, the threat of violent conflict spreads. In the Middle East alone, America's commander in chief must confront Iran's nuclear proliferation, carnage in Syria and the fragility of new democracies in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

Both candidates favor U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan by 2014, but both sweep this issue under the rug for now. Neither has a plan to address the inevitable power vacuum and instability that will result amid the already furious jockeying of the neighboring Iran, China, India and Pakistan.

For all the urgency of those issues, however, what gives this election its historic importance is that Americans will be electing a president who must define their nation's place in a dramatically changing world.

The landscape is driven by factors such as the rapid rise of new powers (in particular, China); individual empowerment – for everyone from terrorists to scientists – of a sort the world has never seen; a growing demand for finite resources like energy, water and food; and demographic shifts that may leave aging societies behind and create ever larger and less manageable megacities.

It was with some hope that the world watched the first presidential debate last week, a refreshing marker in an otherwise desultory campaign. The debate was unusually substantive on economic issues, but it fell far short of addressing the magnitude of the historic moment.

Governor Mitt Romney came closest to referring to such a moment in his closing statement, saying:

"I know this is bigger than an election about the two of us as individuals. It's bigger than our respective parties. It's an election about the course of America. What kind of America do you want to have for yourself and your children."

Governor Romney can make whatever points he wants but for those who follow the alternative media (and there are tens of millions who do) his sentiments will inevitably be contrasted with a larger reality.

THIS reality has to do with libertarian-conservative GOP candidate Dr. Ron Paul who came very close to winning the GOP nomination with positions that were considerably different than Romney's.

The GOP on behalf of the Romney campaign changed rules, disbarred Ron Paul delegates and generally made a brutal mockery of the political process. The people in charge of the Party were so obvious and disdainful in their actions that they have likely alienated the most vital part of the modern GOP, which is the libertarian-conservative wing.

We can see this alienation now that Romney has won the nomination and is appealing to Ron Paul backers to support him. Whenever one of these appeals is made on a high-profile website, the feedback is filled with vituperation and resentful comments generally. People are neither willing to forgive nor forget.

Romney is being represented by GOP supporters and leaders as a principled fighter for conservative positions. But, in fact, these positions are somewhat hard to detect, as he seems to change them regularly. Where he is strongest is on his backing for the military-industrial complex, a political stance shared by his vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan.

One of Ron Paul's signature issues was his perspective that the US should end its wars and bring its troops home. This found a great deal of resonance especially with younger GOP voters but it proved to be most unpopular with the GOP power structure.

In fact, this was the nub of GOP disagreements with Ron Paul and his supporters. It remains the single most important dispute in the Republican Party. Interestingly, Kempe focuses on this issue in his column as follows:

Even more compelling had been former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, which has not received the attention it deserves. It captured the urgent need for stronger U.S. leadership and weighed it against the desire of U.S. voters to shed their global burdens following long conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq:

And I too know there is a weariness…a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough. But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen – no one will lead and that will foster chaos – or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum.

Governor Romney referred to these roots of history in a major foreign policy address to the Virginia Military Institute this week. In his speech, Romney recalled the period after World War Two, when America contributed to the rebuilding of Europe. He said:

Statesmen like [General George] Marshall rallied our nation to rise to its responsibilities as the leader of the free world. We helped our friends to build and sustain free societies and free markets. We defended our friends and ourselves from our common enemies. We led. We led.

Kempe is doing two things in this article. He is making a case for military adventurism and he is propagating the idea that this is a most important election for the US. But neither observation seems true.

President Barack Obama has been just as pliable when it comes to the interests of the US military complex as his Republican predecessor George Bush. And given this, the idea that Romney represents an important alternative is obviously unrealistic.

Kempe's article can be seen as a positioning statement. His colleagues and superiors are all invested in the larger power elite paradigm of globalism, and this positioning remains fiercely defended.

In fact, the powers-that-be have supported and expanded the idea of transformative democracy for more than a century. But the events of this latest nominating process combined with what we call the Internet Reformation are rapidly making the meme less credible.

It is obvious to us that the US and the West in general are moving toward more authoritarian sociopolitical models even as the idea of representative democracy begins to fade. What is troubling is that Kempe's defense of the status quo is probably less-than-compelling for many who follow these sorts of conversations.

After Thoughts

Clashes between elites that have set up these dominant social themes and an intelligentsia that no longer subscribes to them are bound to deepen over time.

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