Even though the world has become multipolar, made of bits and pieces, the American election still governs the planet. Through its economic and financial weight, America dominates; Europe is sick and the euro is running after the dollar. No other country has attained the critical mass of the United States, and we know what the Russian and Chinese elections are worth.
American culture and ideologies continue to influence the rest of the world in ways unlike any other country. We can still dream the American dream, but who speaks of a Chinese, Russian or European dream? From Reagan and his neocons to Clinton and his neorealists, American political ideas are epidemic, and this year American campaigning is taking place on the level of ideas. What country in the world would have chosen men like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — men who are so far right and so extremist when measured against Europeans — to represent them? Next to them Merkel, Cameron or Sarkozy are the face of the left. Romney made his millions by outsourcing thousands of jobs and housing his revenues in tax havens. Ryan, the ideologue of the two, wants to privatize Medicare, reduce the government’s regulatory functions and prohibit abortions even in cases of incest or rape.
Yet, according to polls, these two men are running neck and neck with Obama. Proof, of course, of the great slip-up of the right wing: Clinton was the exception, Reagan the rule. Proof, as well, that Obama, despite his historic victory, wasn’t able to sell his democratic ideas of social justice and economic progress. The game hasn’t been decided yet, but the American ideological battle must concern us.
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Launched in 1973 by Jean-Paul Sartre and a group of like-minded left-wing intellectuals, Liberation was aimed at the “1968 generation” – those who felt frustrated by the slow pace of social change in France and wanted a paper with an alternative outlook. What started off as a radical chic publication moved closer to the mainstream from the 1980s onwards, and by January 2005, when the banker Edouard de Rothschild became the main shareholder and invested 20m euros (£13m) in the title, the process of counter-revolution seemed complete. A restructuring plan proposed by Rothschild gave rise to protracted and acrimonious battles with staff, and many of Liberation’s most respected journalists left the paper.