Wednesday 3 November 2010

US Midterm Elections

I’m coming to you stateside this week. I’m on the American East Coast spending a couple of days in Boston enjoying a short city break.

As you can guess there’s only one story that’s dominating the news agenda this week and that’s the US midterm elections.

I know we get a huge amount of American political coverage in the UK, but being here in America you get a different feel and perspective on what’s going on. It’s been an eye opener.

You can’t deny the fact that Obama and the Democrats have taken a battering from the US electorate, who have made their frustrations clear to the President.

It seems that Obama will have work more closely with the Republican Party to get anything done in the next two years.

What will be interesting is that now the Republicans, and the right wing Tea Party movement have taken control of Congress, they’ll have to start offering answers and solutions to America’s economic problems rather then just being a voice of opposition.

“It’s the economy stupid”

This is what I was thinking after following all the election coverage. It's the phrase made famous by former President Bill Clinton. It’s shocked me just what a complete mess America’s economy is in.

When Obama was elected he already faced a daunting task, becoming President in a hostile economic environment, but he’s really suffering from the fact the economy hasn’t improved and ordinary Americans are suffering. Unemployment is running at 9.6%.

Add to the slow economic recovery, there's still a huge amount of resentment over Obama's $814 billion economic stimulus and the new healthcare law which requires most Americans to buy some form of health insurance.

What I've started to realise is that many conservatives and members of the Tea Party object to this type of government intervention. They see it as big government interfering in people's lives and they don't like it.

I don't get it myself. Without the economic stimulus, the recession could have been a depression; and the new healthcare bill means 30 million more people will get healthcare as a result of the reforms.

I was watching one political show tonight where the former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was being interviewed about the election results.

He was talking about how much of Obama's policies since his election were wrong and that his left wing vision and agenda for America wasn't working.

Left wing vision? Was he being serious? He clearly was. This is what baffles me about US Politics.

In the UK or in Europe, Obama would be a middle of the road centerist politician, but in America because their politics are so much more to the right, he's considered a left wing radical!

If there are aspects about about American politics that confuse me, then there are plenty of things that are the same.

The big issues facing America in the next few years are similar to those in the UK. How will more jobs be created? How do they cut the deficit? How much government spending should there be? How do they get the economy growing?

It's been a tough week for Obama, but he's got a tough job on his hands. I think there was too much unrealistic expectation over what Obama could achieve when he became President.

Obama's campaign was all about 'change' I don't really know what that change represented, and I don't think America really likes change.

Much of the US electorate aren't happy with what they've seen so far, but this isn't necessarily a disaster for Obama.

Republicans and the Tea Party fringe now have the opportunity to have a greater say on how America should tackle many of it's problems, so it's going to be very interesting to see how cooperative they'll be with the Democrats and what policies they'll bring to the table in the run up to the 2012 Presidential elections.

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