Back in April 2010 and newly enthused from a trip over there I had planned a series of blogposts on the US. Life, and other distractions, choked that one off at birth. Today I’m going to try to take up the thread again, as I have been following the race for the Republican nomination and because we are taking another family holiday there this coming Easter.
On any rational assessment of his record, Obama ought to struggle for re-election come November. The US economy is struggling out of recession and unemployment numbers are high. His healthcare policy is divisive and he has just lost control of the House of Representatives. Yes, he can point to the removal of Osama bin Laden – but no-one is seriously claiming al-Qaeda are finished as a result. But when you look at the Republican candidates one finds it hard to imagine that Obama could lose to any of them.
Conservatives and Republicans historically have enjoyed close ties, from Eisenhower and Churchill through to Thatcher with Reagan and George Bush I. I on the other hand would find it impossible to make common cause with most of the Republican party. I do not support the death penalty. I might wish the abortion limit were lower but I would far rather our compromise to the bombing of clinics seen in the US. Religious belief is a private matter as is sexuality. All of those views would instantly rule me out of any Republican primary. (For the record I would feel no more at home with the Democrats). Presidential candidates need to appeal to the extremes to be selected and then row back to the centre to be elected. No wonder they are called flip floppers.
It loks as though Mitt Romney will win the nomination. He is the moderate option and he will only win because the party will hold its nose and choose someone who can possibly win the presidency over someone who simply cannot win. But Obama will have a field day with Romney’s connection with the banks, his lack of consistency in his expressed opinions, and with the fact that he is a Mormon. Let us not forget that evangelical Christianity sees Mormonism as a sect, and of the Devil.
So the Republicans ought to win, but are in the process of throwing it away, and the Democrats ought to lose, but will probably scrape in by default. It will hardly be a ringing endorsement for whoever will emerge this autumn as the leader of the free world, and this is just at a time when firm international leadership is required.