Should The Economist’s endorsement of Barrack Obama for President carry any weight?
The truth is that there is no easy answer to this question. In its latest issue, the news magazine offers a self-admittedly weak defense of President Obama, while at the same time casting doubt over the credibility of Mitt Romney’s economic proposals. Defenders of Romney have claimed that his pandering to the Right is simply a necessary evil in order to satisfy constituents and placate ineffective congressional lawmakers. Yet, the crux of The Economist’s argument is that many of these promises will become a political reality that the United States ironically cannot afford.
While it is easy to dismiss the publication as pompous, elitist, and even anti-American, it is impossible to deny The Economist’s credibility. Given that the economy itself is the single most important issue driving the election, the magazine has presented countless opinions and analyses ranging on a wide range of topics that connect the election’s impact on the U.S. and global economies.
The public’s dissatisfaction with the economy was supposed to serve as the tip of Mitt Romney’s spear in his assault against the President. Yet, given a surprising (albeit limited) drop in unemployment, and the October resurgence of available jobs, Romney’s campaign is standing on far less sturdy ground than it was just a month ago.
The skepticism concerning President Obama’s record and future is certainly understandable. But even after all of that criticism and doubt, if The Economist still questions the competency and future of someone whose number one goal and promise has been to fix a troubled national economy, shouldn’t Americans share those same concerns?
In 2008, America optimistically rolled the dice on Barrack Obama, in a time when the country had lost its way both at home and abroad. The article in The Economist, accurately asserts that President Obama has not made the economy better, but he has not made it worse either.
This is the point that the article started to explain, but didn’t quite drive home. The deeper point is rooted in political goals versus political realities. When President Obama was elected in 2008, his hubris coupled with a House majority and filibuster-proof Senate, led to his utter failure regarding issues from universal health care, to Bush-era tax cuts, to Guantanamo Bay. The arrogant divide that the President created between Capitol Hill and his administration destroyed any hope the country had of changing government for the better.
That being said, the hope, at least among many Democrats, and the country if he gets re-elected, is that President Obama can learn from his mistakes in order to not repeat them in the future. Given that the Republicans will likely control the House, as well as mount a challenge for the Senate, the road will certainly only get harder for the President.
While the article paints an uphill battle for the President, it likewise paints an even bleaker abyss for a Mitt Romney presidency. If Romney continues to take the same hard-line stance on tax-cuts (which according to the article would be disproportionately in favor of the extremely wealthy) while simultaneously proposing an increase in defense spending (a number that is reportedly higher that what the DOD has even requested), then he will be residing in the same state of denial that engulfed three of the first four years of President Obama’s tenure in Washington.
This is the issue that should be at the heart of the election. Even with a leader such as President Obama in 2008, the office of the President, Congress, and even Americans proved that no matter who the candidate is, the difficulties and inexperience undermining the U.S. government will always be the same.
Even the recent poster-boys for both political parties, Ronald Reagan (deregulation) and Bill Clinton (housing mortgages), faced their own trials and tribulations before being falsely idolized as the golden standard that future candidates should seek to embody.
It is true that that Obama’s re-election would create concern among Americans. If he fails to grip political realities, aim to compromise, and even understand his own party, then America will have to dig itself out of another hole.
The greater lesson which is alluded to in the article by The Economist, is that the possibilities for Barrack Obama’s next four years far outweigh the potential calamity that is a Mitt Romney presidency.
America should strive to be a nation that gives its leaders a chance to succeed, even if it takes time. Republicans' childishly voting against Obama because he hasn’t turned the country around fast enough are the types of people who fail to see the consequences of actually electing Mitt Romney.
Given his political fickleness on political positions, his own party, and the oppositional majority that comes like clockwork in mid-term elections, who is to say that Mitt Romney’s first four years won’t be the same, if not worse than President Obama’s?
Since The Economist is published in London, it is fair to wonder about whether or not an agenda is being pushed on readers. Fair or not, the President’s image abroad is definitively more positive than that of Governor Romney. Yet, the magazine and website have always aimed to provide a diverse number of opinions that provide analysis on the U.S. and Global Economy, their complex relationship with American Politics, as well as the results and potential consequences of this relationship.
With that in mind, no person in this country should cast their vote based on what comes from any range of sources. Whether that be online, news, radio, television, or countless organizations that are incentivized to influence others.
Instead, voters should process as much information from as many sources as possible, synthesize that information, and then decide for themselves. Obviously many people do not go about voting in an informed way, but for those that do, The Economist is as informative and unbiased source as any.
With so few publications in the media that provide a depth, quality, and diversity of information and analysis, The Economist stands as one of the few standards that which most people agree are more than acceptable.
I am not saying that you should agree with the papers endorsement, nor am I saying that you can’t take issue with its reasons for doing so. We live in an age where journalistic credibility is dying, and all media mediums unabashedly push their views and agendas on the public, regardless of the consequences. Now, more than ever it is important to recognize an organization that presents a well formed opinion that is grounded in fact and logic, and more importantly, one that does so free of the punitive, monetary, and institutional constraints that seem to contaminate everything around us.
On the surface, The Economist’s presidential endorsement for Barrack Obama and warning against electing Mitt Romney is a lesser of two evils argument. The editor’s explanation however, is presented with such clarity, factuality, and a sense of realism that has to count for something in a world that is overwhelmingly dominated by emotional and simplistic perceptions.