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Corriere del Ticino, Switzerland

The Message of the
American Ballot Boxes

By Alfonso Tuor

Translated By Micaela Bester

17 November 2012

 Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Switzerland - Corriere del Ticino - Original Article (Italian)

The recent American elections sent a clearer message than many observers have highlighted. One could venture the hypothesis that they have even sanctioned the end of the liberalist era on a political level. In fact, as opposed to four years ago—when Obama’s victory was favored by the refusal of the Bush wars, the financial crisis which reached a climax a few weeks before the vote and the desire for change—the electoral appointment of November 6 was much less affected by extraordinary events and therefore the result of much better considered preferences. As was emphasized many times, the fragile economic recovery and the high level of unemployment should have played against the outgoing president.

The electoral battle was centered around several themes. The first concerned the role of government and, therefore, whether its reorganization could favor a healthy and durable recovery of the American economy. The response appeared clear: The majority of voters do not want less government, but a more efficient government, dismissing the famous witticism of Ronald Reagan, according to whom “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Hurricane Sandy rendered this message even more evident, demonstrating the role of civil protection and collective action in responding to emergencies.

The second theme concerned the reduction of the federal deficit as well as the growing inequality of income. Even in this case, the American electorate responded clearly. The recovery of public accounts cannot be pursued by greatly trimming down government social services, but by asking for a major contribution from the more favored social classes. Barack Obama insisted on this subject to such a degree that you could not agree with the Republicans that the so-called “fiscal cliff” expected for the end of this year could be avoided without an increase in taxes for Americans with income greater than $250,000.

This message was rendered even stronger by California citizens’ vote on Proposition 30, which proposed an increase in taxes to subsidize schools and other social services. In the very state from whence the so-called fiscal rebellion came, the majority of voters pronounced themselves in favor of an increase in fiscal pressure. The third theme of the electoral confrontation, which determined the vote of several undecided states such as Ohio, was the salvation of General Motors and Chrysler. In this case the bail-out package launched by the Obama administration was supported by the vote. These indications prompt us to consider that the economic crisis provoked a change in the political orientation of the majority of Americans.

These hypotheses are also reinforced by a more detailed analysis of the vote, from which it appears that Barack Obama has not aimed at a general message valid for all, but has sustained a program which was the sum of the expectations of the electorate's diverse components. Thus, he spoke of measures aimed at lifting students out of the enormous debts which they have accumulated to pursue studies, of defending pension and health services for senior citizens, of facilities for minorities, and so on—in practice, a program which responded to the demands of the disadvantaged and to the fears of the middle class. In fact, the analysis of the vote gives the impression that voters’ choices were in large part dependent on their social and economic conditions.

In sum, American voters have sent a clear message that will surely be heard even on an international level. The great problem now is to see whether Obama will succeed in satisfying these expectations. There are legitimate doubts, especially because the American president still does not have a clear economic program to bring the United States truly out of the crisis and therefore to have the resources indispensable to realizing his plans.



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