A hostage to fortune
October 31, 2008 1 Comment
I have to admit that it looks as if I was completely wrong about Barak Obama’s electability – there doesn’t appear to be any way that he can lose now. In my defence I would say that I couldn’t have imagined just how badly the GOP would screw up their campaign. With one decision – picking Sarah Palin as his running mate – John McCain threw away the single biggest advantage he had, his ability to criticise Obama’s lack of experience. Palin has done all that could be expected of her, shoring up the core Republican support, but I cannot fathom how McCain’s strategists ever thought she would be able to appeal to voters beyond the conservative base. McCain himself has tried to pose as both the elder statesman with the wisdom to lead, and the iconoclast who would shake up the establishment, and has failed to convince on either count.
The main factor that has helped the Democrats more than might have been anticipated though is the state of the economy. Back in the primary season it did look like there was trouble brewing, but no one foresaw that the federal government would be taking over the banking system. Now that even the Bush administration believes in state intervention in the economy on a massive scale, McCain’s jibes about Obama’s “socialism” don’t carry much weight.
Could the Republicans try to steal the election by outright fraud? Right-wing pundits have been advancing various theories about how the opinion polls could be wrong, and why we shouldn’t be surprised if McCain does much better than is expected, and you don’t have to be too paranoid to see that as an attempt to prepare the public for an unbelievable result. It seems to me though that the trouble this would cause – I would anticipate serious civil unrest if McCain is declared the winner next week – would far outweigh any advantage to the ruling class of keeping Obama out of the White House. Despite all the Republican rhetoric Obama is no radical, and there is no evidence to suggest that his administration would be seriously inimical to the interests of American capital. Some special interests – defence contractors and oil companies foremost among them – may have to trim their profit forecasts a little, but for the bulk of US corporations it will be business as usual. They are likely to be much more worried about the general economic situation than the prospect of an Obama presidency, and anyway, of the two candidates, he seems to have the firmest grasp of what is actually going on, and what needs to be done to keep US capitalism on the road.
I still think Hillary Clinton would have made a better candidate, and a better president, but I doubt I’ll be feeling too disappointed next Wednesday.