Elections in The ‘Home of the Free’

By Jesse Kroon

The bubble at UCU is rarely penetrated. Other than the odd European monetary crisis, we live in relative seclusion. We study, suffer under the tyranny of Sodexo and drink away our sorrows in the bar, week after week. However, if there is anything from outside of Europe that has breached the iron gates of our humble school, it is the debate over the question posed to the citizens of the United States of America.

So, will it be the black dude or the Mormon with the hair?

There are a number of Americans and American-culture kids like myself floating around, and everyone happily provides their own doomsday scenario. I know I have, as a staunch Obama supporter and dedicated Daily Show viewer. At this time I’d like to attempt to provide a more objective depiction of the issues at hand.

This election is about the spirit of the nation, a nation divided between red and blue. The Red and the Blue, the Asses and Elephants, spineless Democrats and zealous Republicans; these are the two sides of the American political spectrum. Each has chosen its champion, and in the next four years only one of them will lead the nation. Now, things are not well on the State side: the economy is a dump, conflict abroad drains the nation and 7.8% of Americans don’t have jobs. Who can solve it?

The Republicans have put forward a man who suits them. Mitt Romney – a millionaire who gained his experience through business, a real market made man. He and his party swear by the theory of the trickle-down economics: the rich ‘job creators’ must be given space so that they will invest in the nation and wealth will reach all corners of society. Eventually. This is paired with a belief that beautiful, pristine capitalism and free market healthcare will heal the sick and mend the broken.

The Democrats still stand by their pillar of strength, Barack Obama. Though they, once again, did not manage to get some of their legislature approved when they held a majority in the Congress, they still believe that it is with their leader that the US will be set right. The Democrats come as close to the European system of social democracy as the extreme conservatives will allow (before they all scream SOCIALISTS!) and see the way out of the recession as everyone paying their fair share to promote growth. Obama has managed to reform healthcare and help the uninsured.

Now, neither party is perfect and populism encroaches on a lot of what either candidate says in speeches and huge-budget events. But, at the end of the day, the States are confronted with a choice that Europe has not had to deal with for a long time. The concept of a nationalized option in healthcare was enough to bring up a nationwide debate. Citizens of the Netherlands have no worries about healthcare. My barber in LA, on the other hand, has to hope she doesn’t break her arm, which would keep her from work. If there is such a thing as an evolutionary stepladder that all societies must ascend, then Europe is a step above the Home of the Free. The US is now faced with the question of whether or not to climb. Social democracy is not perfect, but it certainly is a step up from the situation in the States.

I just hope that enough Americans have the sense to agree.


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