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Jon-Christopher Bua

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Obama Versus - Romney: A Nation Divided May Not Stand

Posted: 20/08/2012 08:10

The Republican and the Democratic National Conventions, which mark the official start of the 2012 Presidential Election Campaign, are about to begin.

After all that has been going on these past many months, I know this is hard to believe.

As the average American actually begins to pay attention to this race it may be time for them to focus on exactly what is a stake.

No matter what we've all been thinking, this election is not about personal attacks, negative ads or which Super PAC is best at mudslinging.

This election is about fundamental issues and the survival of a great nation.

236 years ago at the very birth of this Nation, its founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton fiercely debated taxation without representation and the role of a strong Federal Government versus States Rights.

Today perhaps more than any time since the Civil War - when the Nation almost broke in two over the issue of slavery and States Rights - these battles are front and centre once again in the 2012 Presidential Election.

Americans are almost evenly split on the role the Federal Government should play in their daily lives.

About half of the American people believe they are in fact their 'brother's keeper' and that we are all in this together.

Their view is one that holds to the philosophy that helping others helps society as a whole - where taxes are used to pay for a social safety net - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - and other entitlement programs.

This half of the American people believe that the US Constitution is a living document that should evolve to meet the needs of a changing society where Federal Government should, for example, regulate clean air and water and play an active role in the people's health, education and general welfare.

They think these issues and concerns should be addressed in a uniform manner no matter which state you live in because the states should be united in their approach to these issues.

The other half of the American people believe in a "you are on your own society" - where you rise and fall on your own merits.

Their view is a very libertarian one - where the Federal Government has almost no role in the lives of average Americans.

They believe in a strict construction of the US Constitution where the government should be limited basically to national defence and all other issues should be left to the states to deal with as they please.

The irony here is that the states that believe in the "brothers keeper" philosophy are generally the "Blue" or Democratic states - who pay the bulk of the overall taxes in the US which are redistributed to the people who believe in the "you are on your own" society - who mostly live in the "Red" or "Republican" States and are the beneficiaries of this wealth redistribution.

The successes that America has enjoyed since the Great Depression have been based on a balance of these two very different philosophies.

The economic pressures brought on by the recent economic downturn and the impending retirement of the Baby Boom Generation might now cause an extreme shift in this delicate balance.

More than any time in recent memory the Democratic and Republican tickets for the White House actually mirror a profound 50-50 divide that goes deep into the conscience of the American public.

This is why - as polling indicates - this presidential race has been and remains an almost equal match-up.

The American electorate seems to be at a crossroads and simply can not agree on which path to take.

Who wins the race to the White House will depend on who can best deliver the message of real choice to their base and convince that precious sliver of independent voters to join them.

The Obama - Biden ticket is arguing that taxes are the way we pay for a civilized society - the social safety net of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and investments for future growth in education, environment, and infrastructure.

The Romney - Ryan ticket is countering that the role of the Federal Government should be extremely limited and the social safety net should basically be eliminated.

They believe that unfettered private enterprise on its own is the key to America's success.

To be blunt, there is no middle ground anymore.

The days of the Ronald Reagan-Tip O'Neill after hours goodwill cocktail are long gone.

Politicians in Washington are pilloried today when they even attempt to do what they have done for generations - try to take the best ideas from both sides and find compromise.

No matter which side wins, there will be no voter's mandate - since at least half the American people are likely to vehemently disagree with the victor's governing approach.

This will mean that governing such a divided nation will continue to be a monumental challenge for the next president.

And to paraphrase our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War - A divided nation may not stand.

This blog can also be read on Sky News.

 
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