diagnosis serif;”>Darragh Morriarty searches through the song and dance of US politics

In case you did not know, an election of sorts is looming across the water (no not that way, the other way!) In the coming weeks, the coverage of the election will only intensify as the candidates fight for every undecided vote. From the perspective of an outsider looking in, the American political system creates the impression of being rather complicated. Congress, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, is one part of the system; the President is a separate part. The intention when this relationship was formulated was a distinct distance and difference from European counterparts. The system under which they operate is said to provide checks and balances that ensure only the best decisions for the country are made. The President can veto a bill accepted through Congress, and must gain the support of this body when proposing a bill. But what happens when a Democrat rules the White House and Republicans run congress? In theory, the legislation passed should be of even greater benefit to all Americans as you have both sides of the political spectrum pulling for their stances on policies. In practice things work differently. Some motions or initiatives may have the proverbial pin stuck in them and won’t actually become laws until one party controlling Congress and the Presidency can put their own spin on them. It’s ostensibly a complicated system, and that’s without getting deep into the nitty-gritty things.

Obama and Romney have being publicly sparring over the past year, and now, with the debates and such like occurring, the race for the White House is heating up. The smearing and slandering that goes on is childish and distasteful but, apparently, that’s politics. Both candidates conform to the status quo of Democrat/Republican rivalries and their stances on policies can almost be guessed. Obama wants the ‘richer folk’, as he puts it, to pay more tax. He doesn’t just say that though, he has to ‘Obamanize’ it by asking Americans that have done well as a result of the services etc. provided by the state to give back to the ones who ‘aren’t having such a good time’ right now. Romney, on the other hand, says he’s going to cut everybody’s tax, including the 47% of Americans he all but dismissed by claiming that ‘they see themselves as victims’ and that ‘they’ll vote for Obama no matter what.’ Yes, it’s not a typo: cut, not increase tax. He proposes to cut tax while at the same time reducing the reductions granted to all Americans but particularly aimed towards the top earners. Due to ‘basic arithmetic and math’, Obama says this will not work and that the result will be Americans becoming penalised. Obama meanwhile seems to spend more time criticising Romney than focusing on his own policies.

The easiest thing to do for an undecided voter would be to stick with and vote for the current president. He’s charismatic, talks well and also oversaw ‘the removal’ of bin Laden from the face of the earth – not the capture, or the imprisonment, but the murder of the man. In the ‘US of A’, where liberty and justice for all is the basis of their foundation as a country, this doesn’t wash. Bin Laden, as nasty a bloke he appeared to be, should still have been considered innocent until proven guilty. Under the Bush regime, such figure heads of terrorist groups were brought to Guantanamo for information to be extracted from them, one way or another. ‘Torture circuits’ also existed, whereby a person was flown around the world and as the name suggests tortured until they gave up information. This, however wrong you may consider it, enabled the US to stop potential terrorist attacks at source before they had a chance to occur, whereas Obama drops bombs with his Drones in a general area where a ‘baddie’ is suspected to be. These Drones, by the way, are planes that are flown not by a pilot but a controller under the command of some spotty teenager that is exceptionally trained in the field of Modern Warfare or Black Ops or even ‘Flight Simulator’ (I exaggerate slightly). These Drones are a dangerous invention as they remove the risk of human casualties for the attacking side which may lead to bombs being dropped that otherwise would not be. Romney on the other hand is rich, and the easiest thing to do would be to dislike him because of that. He is also prone to the odd gaffe here and there – the 47% debacle for example, or his ‘binders full of women’. Romney, not a devout politician his whole life, claims to be offering a new perspective for the American people. Similar to our own Enda, he’s adopted a five-point plan throughout his campaign that will lead America back to the ‘top of all the charts’. What exact charts he is referring to is unclear. Throughout his five-point plan Romney covers all topics and seems better prepared than Obama. In their first debate Romney was a clear winner with Obama’s best moments being his opening and closing statements. The second debate however was won with relative ease by Obama as he aggressively tore Romney’s plans limb from limb. The likelihood is that Obama will talk his way to a second term in office, his well-paid speech writers will write and Obama will deliver these speeches as only he does.

Who’s going to win? Does it even matter? I ask this because the facts say that the person with the biggest campaign budget usually ends up the victor. Where does this budget come from? Well, people give them money. Why do people give these candidates money? They give it to seek a return on their investment like any other business person. Backs get scratched all over America around election time. Every election campaign needs funding indeed, but the sheer power of the US President not only domestically, but internationally, is a rare commodity. Elites that employ millions and millions of voters are in effect able to hold the President along with the rest of the government to ransom, in order to see that bills which benefit them are passed. Last year the state of Ohio proposed a law that would see businesses that defraud the state penalised quicker so that monies owed could be retrieved as quick as possible. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) didn’t particularly agree with this and the law wasn’t passed. Sounds pretty normal? ALEC is a lobbying body that “works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.” The bill wasn’t passed until it was reworked to satisfy some of their concerns. This made it one of many bills influenced by the group, predominantly made up of Republican legislators as well as corporate businesses such as Walmart and Coca-Cola.

Due to controversy surrounding the death of an innocent teenager where the alleged murderer was initially not arrested because of a self-defence act supported by ALEC, Coca-Cola subsequently withdrew their membership from the organization. The bills endorsed and supported by ALEC tend to advance a pro-business agenda. About 17% of bills proposed by ALEC are passed. This leads to political commentators concluding that if bodies such as this as this exist, soon the independent role of the President will diminish significantly. Entities such as ALEC, and there are others like it, make democracy pointless. They appearance of democracy is perpetuated nowhere as it is in the US presidential election, where the performance is supercharged to enrich a smokescreen and to retain the status quo, and illusion of democracy, until it’s four years later, and time to do it all again.