The American Election’s Global Reach

The Obama-Clinton alliance, formalized with Bill Clinton’s blockbuster speech at the Democratic National Convention, confirms what has often been played down: President Obama has chosen to build on Clinton’s legacy rather than abandon it.

This is why the 2012 election matters not only to Americans but also to supporters of the moderate left across the world. What’s at stake is whether the progressive turn that global politics took in the 1990s will make a comeback over the next decade, and also how much progressives who embraced markets during the heyday of the Third Way sponsored by Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will adjust their views to a breakdown in the financial system they did not anticipate.

Polls reflecting an Obama upturn since the conventions suggest the Obama-Clinton politics of balance is far more popular than ideological conservatism. The two conclaves plainly shifted the campaign’s focus to the views of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — and the more swing voters think about what the Republican ticket would do, the less they seem inclined to support it.

Many conservative commentators attribute Obama’s bounce to Romney’s failure to be specific enough. They don’t want to acknowledge that on core issues, the electorate is far closer to Obama’s moderate progressivism than to Romney and Ryan’s conservatism.

Voters favor tax increases on the wealthy to balance the budget, have little interest in less regulation of capitalism and widely accept that Obama inherited an economic mess caused by conservative policies. The electorate is even starting to notice what it likes about Obamacare, a reason why Romney, on “Meet the Press” this month, listed all the new law’s benefits that he would preserve.

The often-disparaged high command of the Romney campaign seems to know all this. Romney thus keeps trying to change the subject — to false attacks on Obama’s welfare changes, to misleading assaults on the health-care law’s impact on Medicare, and, disastrously, to Romney’s reckless criticisms of the president last week after the killings of Americans in Libya. Romney is scrambling because he knows the dynamics of the campaign are shifting against him.

The movement in the presidential race reflects a broader trend visible in many nations. In the immediate wake of the financial crisis, electorates moved not toward parties of the left, which is what one might expect during a crisis of capitalism, but toward the right. Conservative-leaning parties won a long list of national elections in 2009 and 2010, including the Republicans’ midterm triumph here.

But since then, the center-left has mounted a comeback, reflected in the victory this year of Socialist Francois Hollande in France and a sharp poll swing against Britain’s Conservative-led coalition government.

Read the whole story:   The Washington Posts

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