When a Choice of Two is No Choice At All

Mr Obama has been President of the United States of America for the past four years. He came on the scene promising much but has delivered little. It would have been unreasonable to expect him in four short years to solve the decay of the American economy, which has been on a downturn since the 1990s but I think everyone expected him to act with greater humanity in foreign affairs. Instead we have seen that he like his predecessors is following the same policies in Afghanistan and Iraq and like his predecessor has not dismantled the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

It seems that an American President is held captive to the foreign policies of his predecessors which like a giant oil tanker simply cannot be reversed in any meaningful way. I suspect that foreign policy barely matters to the vast majority of Americans. They see a nuanced world simply, through a dim reflection of reality; they see good and bad and so like the Sheriff of the old west they kill the bad whether the bad deserves such punishment or not.

Mr Obama and Mr Romney cannot really speak their minds in this election. They reel off statistics and slogans in ways that make me convinced that they regard winning as more important than explaining; they are careful to avoid explaining, except where some previous statement has been found unacceptable by the electorate in which case the candidate changes that statements proving winning is more important than principles, which is an odd attitude for anyone seeking democratic election.

I have no idea whether Mr Obama would prove a better President than Mr Romney. I doubt if you can push a cigarette paper between them in so far as their foreign policy goes. I also doubt if Presidential policy can change the economic outlook for the United States; that will only be changed by the hard work enterprise and good sense of the American people. America, like most of the western democracies, has become jaded and self-satisfied and somewhat slow in adapting to change.

So we will see this great contest in which the parties have spent billions of dollars to persuade the electorate provide a result soon. Whatever the result, I doubt that it will make any difference to America or the rest of the World. The only effect of the election will be to decide which politician wins the golden prize and power for an American President barely exists.

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