There’s something deeply delusional about coverage of the 2012 presidential race. Namely, that it matters very much.
For many college students, the Republican primaries have turned into some kind of unlikeability contest. Among Republicans, attempts to resurrect Reagan are alive and well. While Mitt Romney has the haircut, his conservative credentials are regularly questioned and his political positions while governor of Massachusetts are often likened to Obama. Romneycare and Romney’s other bygone political positions are serious liabilities in the Republican quest to contrast starkly with Obama.
Despite Republican attempts to contrast with Obama, it is more likely that the 2012 election will produce only modest changes to American policymaking. Obama and Romney both run the industrial-style campaigns befitting modern American politics and, as Harvard Law graduates, both candidates contrast with an era of increasing populism.
Of the most serious policy issues facing the United States in 2012, the differences between Obama and Romney are much less substantive than their rhetoric. They have presented plans which only mildly reform the tax code and, according to non-partisan analysis of each candidate’s proposal, neither Obama’s plan (link to http://crfb.org/document/analysis-presidents-fy-2013-budget), nor Romney’s plan (link to http://crfb.org/sites/default/files/primary_numbers.pdf) will decrease the federal deficit substantially.
On Israel and Iran, their differences are also largely mythical. Despite running on an anti-war platform, Obama has further expanded American involvement in the Middle East and Afghanistan, while firmly committing to an American alliance with Israel.
Neither candidate is likely to substantively focus on crucial areas such as mass incarceration, the drug war, intellectual property, education, and immigration. Instead, we are stuck with gridlocked discussions of marginal tax rates and foreign policy.
As usual, coverage of the 2012 race and American politics in the coming months is likely to be quite unoriginal.
Jacob Arluck is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Hill is a politics blog that aims to stimulate discussion on today’s most pressing issues, be they related to Cornell or national affairs. If you’re interested in joining the conversation, please contact email@example.com.