A hot topic of debate was which candidate would do more to fight off China (as well as the rising tide in the Middle East). We can expect this to be the focus of the next "debate" which will be on US foreign policy
It was a set-up even before it started.
The tame and mainstream League of Women Voters used to run the US presidential debates, but even they would not go along with the demands of the Republicrats -- that single party of Corporate America that sports two different faces. So they were replaced by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is directly run by representatives of the Republican and Democratic Parties. One of the main purposes of this is to ensure that no candidate that has not been properly vetted by Corporate America - and thereby won either the Republican or Democratic primary - will be able to participate. Thus, the presidential and vice presidential candidates from the Green Party were not only barred from the debate, they were actually arrested when they tried to enter the grounds.
This "debate" was advertised as a "town hall" style debate in which real people got to ask questions. But the "real people" were all people who were undecided as to which one these two corporate shills they were going to vote for. In other words, they were vacillating between the right-wing Obama and the far-right wing Romney. All questions were vetted in advance, and it was determined that any questioner who asked a question different from what they'd already submitted in writing would have their microphone turned off. Nor were they allowed to ask follow-up questions.
Therefore, the winner of the debate was preordained, and that winner was… Corporate America.
Much time was spent talking about who would do more to increase the drilling of oil and mining of coal. There was not a single mention of the most pressing issue facing society and the entire planet: Global warming/global climate disruption. That's because Corporate America has decided that it will cut too deeply into their profits to do anything of any significance whatsoever to halt this disaster. Both candidates were part of the cover-up of this looming crisis.
Meanwhile, both candidates prattled on about the budget deficit and how we are leaving a huge debt for our children to pay. (Global climate disruption isn't something they'll have to deal with, in the view of these two corporate shills.) Romney, on the one hand, practiced his usual lying and phrase-mongering. In speaking to American youth, for instance, he said you are facing "more debt and less jobs. I’m going to change that. I know what it takes to create good jobs again. I know what it takes to make sure that you have the kind of opportunity you deserve."
Obama had a two pronged task: One was to defend his record, and the other was to attack Romney. He did his best in his own defense, but few working class people who have been living in the US with their eyes open will believe it. Life has become progressively more difficult, no matter what he says. As Romney pointed out, there are more people on food stamps and more people out of work now than when Obama came into office. What Romney failed to mention is that the division between the top 5% and top 10% and everybody else has increased. He also failed to mention the increasing mass incarceration of black and Latino youth. That's because he is in as great support of these twin processes as is Obama.
Obama's attacks on Romney were frequent and often times effective, such as when he attacked Romney's claim to have a "five point plan" on taxes - a "plan" which Romney has never specified. As Obama said, Romney "doesn't have a five point plan, he has a one point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules." Unfortunately, as the book "America, Who Really Pays the Taxes" shows, every single tax "reform" carried out since the 1950s - under Republican or Democrat alike - has resulted in the wealthy paying a smaller share of the taxes and working class people paying more. Can anybody realistically expect a different outcome this time?
Another hot topic of debate was which candidate would do more to fight off China (as well as the rising tide in the Middle East). We can expect this to be the focus of the next "debate" which will be on US foreign policy.
Back and forth they went for a tedious hour. Each effectively attacking the other. There can be no doubt which class they represent. Romney, for his part, brags about being a top capitalist. Obama, finished his spiel by emphasizing the propaganda of Corporate America: "I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known. I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded."
The main points are these: Both candidates talk about bringing jobs back home. Under the "free" enterprise system, this can only mean attracting capital to wherever profits are greatest, and this inevitably means where labor is cheap and passive, corporate taxes are low and regulations - especially environmental regulations - are minimal.
Both candidates vied for who would be tougher on the number one competitor of US capitalism - the Chinese capitalists. In pumping up this competition, they are heading these two world powers towards war. First will be wars of proxy - which the war in Syria already is to an extent - and then will come a more open, direct confrontation.
If there can be any doubt about the utter disaster towards which US capitalism is driving us, if there can be any doubt about how both of these corporate representatives are part and parcel of this coming disaster, then we must think again about what they had to say about fossil fuels. Obama, bragging, "We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment. " He also attacked Romney for having shut down a coal plant when he (Romney) was governor of Massachusetts. Romney simply attacked Obama for not having gone far enough in burning fossil fuels. It's true that they both paid lip service to renewable sources, but this doesn't matter in the slightest so long as fossil fuel usage continues to increase - as they both advocate.
More than anything else, both candidates played to the short term thinking that dominates US politics. They are both part of the problem. Meanwhile, the world's working class is starting to move, from Spain toEgypt to Indonesia to South Africa. And standing on the sidelines, slowly awakening, is the US working class. The perspectives for this awakening - how it may proceed, what stands in the way, etc. - are another issue that must be considered.
Meanwhile, there is no doubt as to who the winner of this particular election will be. It will be the same person who's won every other one: Mr. Lesser Evil.
John Reimann is a retired carpenter and an expelled member of the Carpenters' Union in the United States. (He was expelled for leading rank and file struggles against the union bureaucracy.) He is a long-time socialist, who organized for a number of years in Mexico. He is presently a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.