Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Post-debate thoughts.

Mitt Romney didn’t win tonight’s debate, although his followers will decline to admit it.

There are two aspects of tonight’s debate that strike me as the most important.  I don’t expect most Americans to notice, but they are still important.

First, as Rachael said, character.  Romney has changed his mind on some very significant aspects of American foreign policy, apparently.  I say apparently because with his campaign etch-a-sketch going, it’s hard to pin it down without a DVR.

It’s one thing to win your primaries by winning over your base and softening your position to then win the General election - that’s been a staple of American elections since WWII.  It is totally another to loudly and vociferously proclaim the most radical and extreme positions possible, including virtually calling the current President an idiot and then two weeks before the election, do the etch-a-sketch thing to look more reasonable in a debate.

It is sleazy, it is weasily behavior, and a lot of Americans had to have noticed it.  According to the post-debate polling of undecided voters, a lot of them did.

Second, I don’t think Romney, and thus, by extension, his advisors, truly understand the concept of national power, and the status of being a super-power especially.

Republicans generally seem to think that what makes us a Superpower is having enough nuclear weapons to make this planet a radioactive wasteland a thousand times over.  Well, by anybody’s standard, that’s pretty super all right.  But is it what makes a nation a superpower? Is that the definition of superpower?

Let’s look at what makes a nation powerful.

Yeah, a strong military does that.  When you spend more than the next ten nations on your military, that pretty much makes you powerful.  But is that all?  Is our military all people pay attention to?

No.  They are focused on at least three or four other aspects of this country which are much more influencial than our ability to bomb people back to the Stone Age.  The first is our economy.

Right now, the US is coming out of a deep recession.  But we are coming out of it, and are doing so faster and easier than the Europeans.  Why?  They chose the road of austerity and we didn’t.  Simple as that.  Almost every country in the world trades with the US.  We are the most sought after trade partner ever.  Our goods are known to be the best built and the most technologically advanced.  Our laws make our companies among the most honest and the least corrupt to deal with.  (mostly)  These are powerful influences.

The next is our system of government.  As the world’s oldest true democracy, our reputation as a good place to live and raise a family is second to none, as regards political stability.  For over two hundred years, our record for exchanging power between two often diametrically opposed parties without bloodshed is unrivaled, with the sole exception of Great Britain.  This reputation is the most powerful influence of all, as virtually every country in the world recognizes their own citizens’ fascination with our success.

Lastly is our solid reputation of being there for almost any country in case of disaster.  The US never plays politics with our aid to countries who have been hit by devastating natural disasters, and is always generous, both officially and privately.  People do not forget these things.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things we’ve done wrong, badly and often for selfish reasons in our country’s past.  But by and large, the things I’ve mentioned are at the core of our country’s reputation as a superpower.

Well, those and the fact that we probably spend more on “aid” to other countries than almost any other.  Giving money away is a very powerful way to at least get people to say they’re your friends…

But Romney and his advisors seem to forget most of these things and focus on the military as why we are a superpower - that our Aircraft Carriers (see? I said this would have aircraft carriers…) are the natural extenders of American power.  Economics gets in there, but more as a weapon in their eyes instead of the carrot it mostly is and really should be - self serving instead of mutually advantageous.

Romney did say a lot of the right things, talking about helping other countries in humanitarian ways as “nation-building” and such.  But those seemed after-thoughts, things to say to soften the war talk.

Romney has no foreign policy experience and his first trip overseas as a candidate saw him pissing off an ally right off the bat!  His advisors are largely the guys who took us to war in Iraq, allowing Bush to distract us from the real enemy in Afghanistan.

We really don’t need another war right now.  We really don’t need a Romney Presidency.

No comments: