America touts "exceptionalism," a country that has spread liberty and democracy all over the world. Yet one has to ask if what we have seen in the primary and general election campaigns over the past two years resembles democracy or if it is just a farce.
America pats itself on the back over winning the Great War, which started in 1914, but the US didn't enter until 1917. This praise continues with World War II, which started in September 1939. America didn't enter until 1941 after the Pearl Harbor attack. America had the wealth and industrial power to support an expensive war effort and subsequently the Korean conflict and a lengthy cold war.
The world was on the brink of a nuclear holocaust 50 years ago during the Cuban missile crisis. Fortunately, the USSR blinked and a catastrophe was avoided.
In the intervening years there was the unsuccessful war in Vietnam, followed by Afghanistan and Iraq. In the latter two cases one has to ask what if anything was achieved.
Fast-forward to 2012 and the American election campaign. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been expended in both the Republican primary and the general election. Candidates have been supported by wealthy donors on both sides and Super PACs have increasing influence.
The large amounts of money have aided in smear campaigns, each side demonizing the other. Seldom is there a serious discussion on the campaign trail and the four debates have been a windfall for fact-checkers.
The American main stream media is complicit in the misinformation campaign, displaying obvious bias to one candidate or the other, even distorting the fact checks. Petty issues have been the order of the day for the world's only superpower. For a country that asserts its power across the globe, "Big Bird, Binders and Bayonets," have been the order of the day.
While a serious honest discussion on the economy, foreign policy, the environment and energy policy should have been on the radar, there was a charade of four debates, including the vice presidential debate.
Mitt Romney apparently won the first debate because the incumbent president was absent. The fickle electorate apparently switched their opinion and the momentum moved to Romney. This was followed by the vice presidential debate, and apparently the momentum continued in favor of Romney.
Then followed the second presidential debate. The fact-checkers again were out in full force and spin masters went spinning. Most of the week was occupied by the media on whether or not Candy Crowley had interfered and helped the president. Congratulations, mainstream media.
The third and final debate was on foreign policy. Fact-checkers will be busy for two weeks sorting out the distortions, but will it matter?
During the last debate the president was combative and obviously hoping to stir up a fight with Romney. After sitting back a few hours, the debate couldn't have been worse for a subject as serious as foreign policy and all the trouble spots in the world.
What you saw were two candidates that were in lockstep on most issues, but each one was determined to tell the public that they could do it better.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Neil MacDonald, well-known for his left leaning reports, even had to concede that,
"Monday night, though, Obama attacked first and attacked often, effectively calling Romney a liar, pointing, sometimes correctly, to his contradictory declarations, and tossing out sarcastic slap downs.
But it just didn't seem to work. Once more, Romney was a step ahead.
Rather than firing back, he responded with an air of regretful forbearance, on two occasions telling Obama "attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we're going to deal with … challenges."
Then, in his closing statement, he talked about the torch changing hands. He talked about getting people off food stamps, "not by cutting the program, but by getting them good jobs."
With the large influx of corporate money to fund elections, US elections have become a farce. Almost anything goes in love and war. Although the electorate professes to have a distaste for attack ads, they work.
Global influence is the hallmark of US foreign policy and this should include the global economy, a Middle East strategy, influence in Asia and Europe and the Americas. This begs the question if anyone heard a clearcut policy by either candidate during these debates. The answer has to be a resounding no.
America's system keeps the country in a constant campaign mode. Once the general election is over, the campaign for the midterm election will heat up. With a polarized electorate the elections have become a farce and a war of ideologies. In the end no one wins, except for the lobbyists and big money donors.
Democracy becomes the big loser. Winners cater to those that donated the big bucks and the general public becomes the pawn of this elaborate farce.
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