Saturday, July 7, 2012


The United States finds itself in an accelerating pre-election mood, which means that it is losing its way. True, the social-economic context is difficult but, contrary to what happens in the EU, remains manageable.  The problem lies elsewhere. The philosophical climate is absolutely unpalatable. Both candidates appear disconnected from the reality they are supposed to heal and the media, with few exceptions, seem to wage wars which would look anti-diluvian in Europe. In the current discourse, God, moral issues, left/right oppositions, federal against state, foreign affairs, are mere commodities which are manipulated by amateurs. The two candidates do look isolated in their own parties and obliged to talk shop rather than to make sense.  Obama looks out of touch while Romney looks contrived and boxed-in by Evangelicals and the Tea Party troglodytes (while it would be a mistake to denigrate them all) who are blackmailing the Republicans.  The Democrats look like a poor lot who hardly warm up to their candidate.  Obama tends to find refuge in distance, while Romney is the hostage of his success. He should be the miracle man in these times of recession and unemployment.  Unfortunately and paradoxically he is stained by his success as a businessman. The latest Vanity Fair and an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (of all papers) present Bain as Dante's Inferno, while it should be applauded for mostly reviving business. There have been failures indeed, but that is the law of capitalism.
It is difficult to predict what the outcome of the elections will be.  Obama has scored mostly in foreign affairs (thanks to Hillary Clinton) and a few sectoral economical pluses (auto industry).  Romney projects the perfect image of the WASP capitalist and an almost sterling record as former governor of Massachusetts, but both fail to ignite a real enthusiasm in the general public which acts as if it felt itself clueless both at home and in the world. The deluge of literature about America's decline is overwhelming and contributes to a climate of malaise. This crisis in the American exceptionalism creates a void which is filled by demagogues on the left and the right. Their arguments do not address the legitimate intellectual or cultural questions. The soundbite rules . All this distracts from the reality that America remains first in the world in military, creative, and technological advances which are unstoppable. Here and there the political (provincial) gridlock is unfortunately creating traffic jams and foolish decisions (Afghanistan) which are fed by the likes of Donald Trump, the Log Cabin, hysterical Democratic media and Co.  When I hear some arguing that Russia or China (America's first lender) are Enemy Number One, I fasten my seatbelt. When I see how women's or gay rights are under attack and how churches and sects proliferate, I start to wonder if some want to recreate a Western Saudi Arabia.  All this is the more absurd since there are more intellectuals and Nobel Prizes in the United States than there are poppies in Flanders' fields. I am confident that the U.S. will find its mojo back, but time is the mother of all miscalculations and third parties might easily be tempted to confuse a temporary fever with a fatal outcome.  The blame cannot rest solely on the shoulders of the candidates for the presidency.  Congress has been playing the role of the mad joker, confusing personality and issues.  The Republican hatred against Obama is almost Freudian and hides undercurrents which better remain unspoken. The Democratic class warfare belongs to another era and is frankly anti-progress.  It consorts ill with measure.
In Christopher Hitchens' words:  it is high time to return to the United States of Enlightenment!

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