Tuesday's election marks the dramatic culmination of a long-term political process in the United States, and perhaps the only unanimous bipartisan conclusion to be drawn from it by this absurdly polarized nation is that it has indisputably dragged on far too long.
Despite the fact that both candidates have acknowledged how “sick of it” their followers must be, they continue on as slaves to the tragic reality of bipartisan power politics and relentlessly plague the daily lives of Americans with propagandist promotions as well as disparaging (if not misleading) personal character attacks. Of all these shameless advertisements, the U.S. economy has proven without question to be the pivotal topic of the 2012 election.
The incumbent party has focused on its leader’s prevention of a potentially (even more) disastrous financial crisis and heroic handling of the presently dismal economy, while painting its challenger as a heartless, self-interested businessman out solely to benefit his rich buddies. Republicans, on the other hand, direct attention to their leader’s unprecedented business acumen. They meanwhile emphasize the currently lousy state of the economy, despite seemingly having done everything in their power to prevent any sort of constructive economic legislation in the previous four years.
However, both of these outlooks disregard the fundamental economic variable of this year’s election. The winning party tomorrow will more than likely gain an imperative bipartisan advantage in terms of its economic platform that will last for years to come.
Here is why: For those Americans that never took Economics 101, allow me to provide a brief lesson. If history has taught us anything, it is that a free-market economy (no, Obama has not turned us socialist) operates in cycles. In the long run, the market will without fail experience a tradeoff between periods of expansion or growth and periods of contraction or, as is the case at present, “recession.” Ironically, both parties have hinted at this reality by citing the Great Depression, albeit in different manners.
The Right is quick to point out that under the current administration the United States is presently experiencing the slowest economic recovery since the Depression. Democrats, however, draw attention to the fact that this in fact the worst economic downturn since the Depression, and hence the slow recovery makes sense in this context. After all, the economic contraction that began in 1929 had not fully run its course until the end of World War II.
Indeed, it is the height of hypocrisy when Mitt Romney, a seasoned veteran of these business cycles, criticizes Obama for failing to rectify the economy in four years whilst proudly proposing a plan that he overtly claims will take “eight to ten years.” Not that the Left has any sort of moral superiority in this regard, as they have relentlessly blamed the former administration for the “mess” that they have had to “clean up.” Such is the tragic reality of a nation so intensely polarized by an impractical state of bipartisan power politics.
However, it is safe to say that the economy is on the mend. Much to the dismay of the Romney campaign, last month’s report from the Department of Labor reveals what is likely to be the beginning of a period of economic expansion, as a substantial number of jobs were created and an even greater number of citizens re-entered the labor force by once again beginning to look for work.
This reality wholly demonstrates the unavoidability of cycles in a capitalist economy. After a period of such horrid recession, the U.S. economy will, as has been the case in every economic downturn since the Industrial Revolution, experience a cyclical recovery. It is as simple as “what goes up must come down” (or vice-versa in this instance). It is important to note that this recovery can certainly not be attributed to partisan fiscal policy, as history has shown no correlation between the party in power and the quality or speed of recovery.
Thus, the stakes of the election have never been higher in that the winning party will essentially have its economic agenda, regardless of its finer policy points, legitimized by an inevitable cyclical recovery. There is a focal bipartisan advantage at stake here. In four years’ time, the next president will undoubtedly indulge in what can only be called a campaign of “self-righteous boasting” regarding their evidently superior economic policy. They will use this cyclical upturn to essentially confirm their economic platform when, in reality, such a recovery was inevitable. Such an advantage will certainly benefit the victorious party for years to come.
These are the stakes of this election. The winning party will undoubtedly play on the stark polarization of the nation in order to gain a substantial political advantage. Do not let yourself fall victim to the bipartisan trap of United States politics.