On February 2, after the so-called ‘Super Tuesday’, I wrote here that “the American democracy has once again provided us with an exciting political combat.” I repeat today what I said then, and on greater ground: the two candidates who now confront each other are some of the best that democracy could give us.
The Republican candidate, John McCain, was assumed to be dead and buried only six months ago. In relation to his party, he is a maverick, a politician who thinks for himself and who says what he thinks. He defended the intervention in Iraq, and continues to defend it. He condemned Rumsfeld’s visionary utopianism, accusing him of wanting to win the war with technology, but without soldiers. For some time, he has defended the ‘surge’, which has finally begun to produce results in Iraq. When he is told that defending the war in Iraq will not produce votes, he responds that he would rather lose the election than lose the war.
In domestic politics, he is no less surprising. Against Republican orthodoxy, he supports a sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants, condemns the torture of terrorism suspects, defends reforms in party financing, and, despite being an avid defender of the market system and of free industry, calls for greater ethics in public service and greater dignity within political activity.
McCain’s political equivalent in the Democratic Party is Barack Obama. He has been a senator for only three years. He cites Ronald Reagan as a leader who remade political culture, presenting himself as the candidate who today could do the same from the left. He unites support from the 60’s counter-culture and a new generation of YouTubers. He controls great sums of money, mainly from small donations. Furthermore, he achieved the feat of defeating the candidate who for the last year had been the shoe-in for the Democratic nomination: Hillary Clinton.
On top of all this, Barack Obama has broken with the culture of victimization often expressed by black Americans. Rarely does he refer to the racial question. In other words, he is not a black candidate; he is a candidate who just happens to be black. This is yet another healthy contrast between himself and Mrs. Clinton, who, especially towards the end of her campaign, spent much of her time saying she was a woman.
I remember that, eight years ago, I used these pages to support John McCain’s candidacy, who was then defeated by George W. Bush. Today, he continues to be my favorite, although the result may be impossible to predict at this moment. The really interesting point is that the American democracy has gone back to refuting the legends that intend to describe it as an oligarchy of the so-called “military-industrial complex.” It has been two hundred years since the left-wing revolutionaries and the right-wing reactionaries started speaking of these legends, and for two hundred years the vibrant American democracy has very simply ignored them.