In our country, sometimes the USA, as we said a few days ago about Cuba, is a matter of national politics. Sometimes. Obviously when there is armed intervention by the American giant in some part of the world. The average Spaniard sits back and does nothing: if Russia intervenes in its zone of Chechnya, if genocide is committed in Sudan, people don’t just bat an eyelid; they almost ignore it. However, if Washington embarks on any kind of military operation, then it is time for protests, banners, public awareness and often anger…the Americans, the average Spaniard rapidly concludes — and we don’t mean the people from the entertainment industry — have caused this monstrosity “for oil and that is unacceptable.”
At a time of general elections in the States, Spaniards are not particularly excited, but our politicians are. And they are divided. In general terms, the left and the progressives want Obama and the Democrats to win. On the contrary, a large part of the conservative People’s Party members want to see the Democrats get a beating. Not only because they believe that that could affect what happens here but also because the shameless way in which President Zapatero has tried to appropriate himself of Obama has made the American unbearable to the center-right. Let’s get one thing straight: the understanding and identification in Zapatero and Obama’s points of view are a complete lie that was made up by fawning socialists, but the feeling, as usual, is that if my enemy praises something so much I don’t buy it.
The party in the White House normally loses ground in the midterm elections. What matters is the scale of the defeat. The reality is that the Democrats and Obama, who campaigned legally until the very day of the vote, have taken a heavy beating. They have largely lost control of the House of Representatives, renewed every two years, and reduced their majority in the Senate. A historic blunder, it had been 60 years since there had been such a change of color in the House of Representatives, but it did not have to be such a tragedy. Both Reagan and Clinton got similar slaps in the face at these elections; the former would regain his position and the latter, although his wings had been clipped, finished office in a satisfactory way. It seems obvious however, that Obama’s room for maneuvering has been substantially reduced in the different areas below.
The president has had a marathon last few weeks. He came out to support numerous candidates and did numerous interviews in which he transmitted not only his own message but encouraged people to vote. His charisma, this time, was not enough. One of his party’s candidates thought it counterproductive that he should campaign for him. He did not manage, as he did two years ago, to mobilize the youth, key voters for the Democrats, and his words made no impression.
The reason, more so than the movement against the entire government or the disillusionment towards the political class, is the economic situation. Many columnists agreed with the harsh phrase of a young Democratic teacher, who said that in two years, nobody could clean up the mess that took eight years to make, but the voters on the street feel the bite of the credit crunch in their daily lives and, whether it is Obama’s fault or not, they are unsatisfied and disillusioned and they show it at the polls.
Obama now has more difficulty in dealing with:
- The end of the war in Afghanistan
- The reform of energy policy (pollution, cutting emissions, etc…)
- The ‘regularization’ of immigrants
- The expansion of the health system, etc…
And perhaps, less time to dedicate to the Middle East, the threat from North Korea or Iran (where it is believed a woman will die today for having committed the ‘sin’ of adultery) etc…
Several of these areas seriously affect non-Americans. And some Spaniards, politicians or not.