EDITORIAL: No change, but there is hope
Next Wednesday, the next president of the United States of America will be known. As the campaigning winds down, the polls are predicting a tight race, and the uncertain turbulence of Hurricane Sandy is adding another unpredictable factor to the race.
Nevertheless, the newspapers have begun to weigh in on their own choice of candidate. This is not an unusual practice in the United States, where freedom of the Press is sacrosanct.
It is not a Barbadian tradition for newspapers to openly support candidates in an election though there is nothing to prevent them. The New York Times last Saturday endorsed President Barack Obama as he seeks another four-year term.
The newspaper said it supports the incumbent Democrat instead of Republican rival Mitt Romney because, among other things, “he has achieved the most sweeping health care reforms since 1965, prevented another Great Depression and ended the war in Iraq”.
On the other hand, the Des Moines Register, the most influential newspaper in the swing state of Iowa, endorsed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign on Saturday night. It is, however, not clear how persuasive these endorsements are beyond the symbolic.
The Register said voters should give Mitt Romney a “chance to correct the nation’s fiscal course and to implode the partisan gridlock that has shackled Washington and the rest of America”.
It is noteworthy that the Register endorsed Obama four years ago, with his theme of hope and change. It said a different reality has marked his presidency and his record on the economy so far does not suggest he would lead in the direction “the nation must go in the next four years”.
The paper noted that Mr Obama and his administration have been resolute in attacking al-Qaeda’s leadership, including the killing of Osama bin Laden and has ended the war in Iraq although Mr Romney had said he would have insisted on leaving thousands of American troops there.
The tight poll situation may have been as a result of the first debate, where many felt Obama simply failed to show up. Perhaps he also thought that, well ahead in the polls, he did not have to bother to fully engage Romney, who wants to replace him in the White House.
One disappointment of the Obama presidency is the lack of consensus, which was the theme of his defining speech at the Democratic convention in 2004, with its famous line, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America”.
In addition, racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll recently found, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward Blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.
Obama’s dreams from his father were not realized in the four years in the White House, and pragmatism has replaced his hope of change.