The “Romanianization” of the United States of America

with 5 comments

In the year 2000, Romania confronted itself with a very nasty political situation: in the second tour of elections for the Romanian Presidency, we had to choose between a former communist leader (Ion Iliescu) and the leader of the far-right party (Corneliu Vadim Tudor). The situation was awful indeed: we hated them both, but we still had to vote for one of them. So we elected the one that seemed, at that time, the lesser wrong: we elected the former communist leader. Cynical as it were, many people who suffered under the communist regime were then obliged to vote for a communist, because of the fear of the far-right policies.

The USA seems to be in the same political situation now. On the one hand, there are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – who are better suited to be TV stars, showmen or whatever – but not presidents! They look so weak, a sort of “crash test dummies”, or actors begging for audience. Now, in the actual context, where Russia is going to be governed in the next 10 years, in a way or another, by the same unmerciful and strong “Tzar” Putin; where terrorism has become a real threat to all of us; where extremism and xenophobia undergo a strong revival all over the world; where USA must continue to be the guardian of liberal values and individual rights in the world – in this context, the president of the USA must be a strong person – not a crash test dummy. USA needs a new Margaret Tacher – not a Hillary Clinton. USA needs a new Ronald Reagan – not a Barack Obama.

On the other hand, there is John McCain. He is not a TV star – on the contrary, it seems that he lacks a lot of charisma. He seems – at least prima facie – to be a strong person (well, he fought in Vietnam, right?). But just take a closer look at his political opinions. He strongly opposes gay marriages. He strongly opposes abortion. So McCain (and many republicans, as a matter of fact) don’t give a damn on liberal rights: he denies to some people the right to marry whomever they wish; and he denies others the right to do with their bodies whatever they wish. The USA led by John McCain cannot be the guardian of human rights. It cannot be the champion of democracy and liberalism in the world.

So it seems to me that the USA undergo this year a process of “Romanianization”: the Americans have to choose between two wrongs: Clinton or Obama, on the one hand, and McCain, on the other hand. Ho is the lesser wrong? What will the Americans choose, between the Muppets show and the potential dictator? I’m afraid this time the answer is not that easy anymore…

Written by Andrei Stavilă

februarie 22, 2008 la 12:44 pm

5 răspunsuri

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  1. Andruska, seen from the other side of the Atlantic, the two Democratic candidates may look like weak and crash test dummies, but you don’t really give us reasons to believe that they are indeed so. The last evening’s discussion (on the CNN) was amazing. We witnessed brilliant exchanges, subtle attacks, consistent comments on proposed policies (especially on those concerning economy, health and immigration reform).

    I can assure you that either of the two could be the appropriate kind of leader for a post-Bush America. People are really concerned here with the subprime mortgage crisis, with the chaotic system of health insurances and with the lack of official interest and resources in stopping illegal immigration. And these two candidates have not only a sensitivity for these issues, but also clear solutions.

    Foreign policy is important, but not as important as it used to be. After all, people elect Presidents that are able to address their concerns. And right now, these concerns are rather related to internal policy. But to mention Reagan and Thatcher as solutions for the US is to forget that the neo-conservative policies these leaders once advocated are precisely those which have led to the present crisis in the US. Bush has been a neocon, McCain will continue this tradition, if elected.

    Rhetoric? Well, candidates need to use it to have their message understood by the electorate. This is part of the democratic process, where you need to prove that you are able to understand and to address peoples’ needs. You need their vote, thus you have to ask them for it.

    I really hope the Democrats (either Obama, or Clinton) prevail.


    februarie 22, 2008 at 3:42 pm

  2. Un loc bun unde se poate urmari toata evolutia situatiei din US este:


    februarie 22, 2008 at 3:48 pm

  3. Iuli,
    1) It doesn’t matter too much how the candidates might look to me – but it does matter how the candidates look to the entire world as such, and generally to the other powerful leaders. And I’m afraid the image is the same – once again, „The Muppets Show”.
    2) I don’t really understand what you found so amazing and brilliant about the CNN discussion. It was a normal one, with a lot of acting. Both of them tried to keep smiling – but it was not difficult at all to see how hard they tried. Moreover, I was sick to hear so many great promisses (I will do that, I will take care of old people). Clinton really made me mad with her rhetorical appeal to that story of young people hurt in war, and how much their lives and pains matter more than her nomination. Come on, Iuli…
    3) I didn’t say that foreign politics is more important than domestic politics. I only said that, as a Romanian, I am more concerned about America’s foreign policy.
    4) I strongly disagree with you: the situation in Irak was NOT determined by the neo-conservative policies. Even if the democrats were in power, the situation would have been the same. There are several reasons for this (Americans’ knowledge about Irak, the supremacy of USA in the world, etc.). But I will not discuss these here.
    5) I strongly think that there is no relation between rhetoric and understanding and adressing people’s needs. Rhetoric is about convincing people – not about showing them the truth; and not about decently reasoning together.


    februarie 23, 2008 at 10:36 am

  4. Andruska,

    1) Politicians have to strike a balance between their (own) interests, ideals, and projects, on the one hand, and the electorate’s interests and needs, on the other hand. This is so, because, first, they would not get involved into this whole process, unless they felt there is something very important they might gain, and second, they need people’s votes in order to reach that important „something.”

    Now, the situation is such that more than 3/4 of the Americans are tired of the whole Iraq thing and are clearly set on getting rid of the „cowboy diplomacy” that has defined the Bush administration’s approach of foreign policy. This makes it more likely that candidates with a more „domestically” oriented agenda have a better chance to get elected. It’s quite simple, and a politician who doesn’t take that into account is severely deluded. You don’t run for the Presidency of the World (case in which you may want to be worried about how you „look” in the eyes of the whole planet), but for the US Presidency (i.e. of that country, whose citizens have now a different and quite clear concern).

    Our interest as Romanians? Well… We should start doing our own domestic and diplomatic jobs better and just hope that those things, which depend on others (like the US, Russia and other such mammoths), turn out to be favorable to us.

    At the end of the day, I do not really understand how Reagan and Thatcher approach did such a great job from the point of view of Romania’s interest. Any ideas?

    2) Again, rhetorics is part of this process, just like shaking hands between diplomats from countries fighting each other is part of the etiquette.

    3)You have the freedom to be concerned about the political situation in another country, but what can you really do, in this case? That is why I have told you that the Democratic candidates may LOOK weak and silly TO US (and that’s our problem), but they ARE NOT in fact SO for the American people (which is why they are willing to elect them).

    4) Well, Obama, at least, opposed the idea of sending troops in Iraq from the very beginning. Clearly, you may argue that, had he been the President, well… In fact, I think that Bush had a special interest in Iraq (personal? economical? or maybe both?). Obama or Clinton would have had a different policy from the very beginning. But what are we to make such counterfactual analyses? 🙂

    5) I believe you underestimate the politician’s capacity to understand what the needs of their fellow citizens are, as well as the electorate’s intelligence in detecting and casting vote for the person who is the most likely to respond to their most important concerns. You do need to use rhetoric sometimes, but you cannot expect to fool the people and get away with that… at least in the US…

    What does truth mean in an election campaign? Nader is usually the guy who speaks a little bit more truthfully about the challenges that US and our planet face, but he has an impressive record of being the constant (not gardener) but loser… Well, what’s the point of running for Presidency if you don’t understand and address the MAIN concerns of the majority?


    februarie 23, 2008 at 12:47 pm

  5. 1a) You say that „the Americans are tired of the whole Iraq thing and are clearly set on getting rid of the “cowboy diplomacy””. Well, that would be a very bad thing, right? Should I remember you that our grandparents and parents have been waiting for 45 years for this type of „cowboy diplomacy”? I see no problem of implementing democracy and human rights with the gun, if needed.
    1b) Once again, you misunderstand me: I do not say that Americans should be interested (only) in foreign policy. What I do say is only that I (i.e., Andrei Stavila) am interested in the American elections because of that.
    1c) Moreover: you are unfair to me when you read me as saying that Tatcher’s or Reagan’s policies were important for Romania’s interests. In fact I made two distinct claims: (a) I want the next Amerivan president to be a strong person, just like Tatcher and Reagan; (b) As a Romanian (i.e., non-American) I am interested in USA’s foreign policy. I cannot understand why you drew the conclusion according to which what I was implying was that Tatcher’s policies served the interests of Romania… ???????
    2) You say that „the Democratic candidates may LOOK weak and silly TO US (and that’s our problem), but they ARE NOT in fact SO for the American people”. Well, that is right, but you have to accept that the American people (or the part that votes for Democrats) could be wrong, right? It is one thing how a person really is – and quite another how he or she is perceived, right?
    3) You ask me: „But what are we to make such counterfactual analyses?”. Well, we are philosophers and ethicists. Making such counterfactual analyses is exactly what we are supposed to do.
    4) You say that I underestimate „the politician’s capacity to understand what the needs of their fellow citizens are, as well as the electorate’s intelligence in detecting and casting vote for the person who is the most likely to respond to their most important concerns”. Well, I think YOU are the one who underestimates the electorate’s intelligence 🙂 Should I remember you that the same electorate, considered by you as beeing so smart, voted for Bush TWICE? Or you really think that, by some sort of miracle, the stupid electorate has become, in just four years (since the last election), so smart?
    5) You ask me: „What does truth mean in an election campaign?”. And I answer that the truth is truth – whether within an electoral campaign or outside it. I am not naive, I know how the things work, but don’t tell me that I should admire most of the actual politicians – be they American politicians…
    6) Finally, you are too quick with the ideea of adressing the main concerns of the majority. Sometimes these concerns should not be adressed at all (e.g., maybe the majority in a specific country might want to kill all blonde males in that country – this doesn’t mean that you are morally right, as a candidate for Presidency of that country, to promise the majority that, if elected, you would adress its concerns)
    Iuli, my main point is this: I am not so quick, as you are, in taking sides. I consider that first I have to think a lot about the advantages and the problems of every side. It seems to me that you are too emotionally involved, in order to see FIRST the problems.
    As for me, as I have already said, I wish that neither Clinton, nor Obama, nor McCain will prevail. Unfortunately, it seems that my hope cannot become reality anymore.


    februarie 23, 2008 at 7:22 pm

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