THE Economist wrote: "In the end it was a massacre." Other media were equally effusive about the US’s midterm elections, which saw the Republican Party gain majorities in both houses of Congress. Analysts either rejoice over or lament the supposed end of the road for Democrats. A Google search on the election yields 90-million sources. Contrary to such hyperbole, the results are scarcely politically, numerically or historically significant. With few exceptions, it has been of little or no significance which party or president has been in power.
Yet passions run high. The intensity of venom against or adoration for former president George Bush and incumbent Barack Obama is astounding.
Both are spoken of as if they embody cosmic evil or virtue, yet what happened under their watch scarcely differs from what happened or would have happened under the other side.
Ask for concrete examples of what makes them villains or saints and you get a recycled short list. For example, Bush invaded Iraq because he was a patriot or warmonger; Obama introduced universal healthcare because he cares or is a communist. Bush was vilified for allegedly neglecting black victims of Hurricane Katrina, whereas he was asked not to land because a presidential visit would disrupt the rescue effort. Obama’s supposed socialism includes such capitalistic features as reduced deficits and accelerated growth. He has neither closed the Guantanamo Bay prison nor withdrawn from foreign conflicts. Obama’s "socialistic" healthcare policy often resembles proposals by procapitalist think-tanks and politicians.
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Leon Louw is the President of the Free Market Foundation.
Publish date: 12 November 2014
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.