Two men appear to covet the job of President of the United States, and I wonder why?
I speak seriously as I see the battle lines between Obama and Romney become established, each fighting hard and determined to be the incumbent of the White House from 2013. The position brings prestige and status, for now, and limited power, for now, but an increasingly precarious economic situation is likely to explode the bubble of fantasy which has encased it for decades just as the next President is taking office, and one of these two men will have the responsibility for managing the fall out from the ugly truth about America’s debts.
In the US and in Europe also, successive leaders have borrowed and spent recklessly, resorting to printing money most recently in order to maintain the semblance of stability. The weight of debt in the Eurozone is causing many EU countries to totter: recession bites and there is no growth even to offset the massive interest payments on what is owed. In America, as patches to disguise the wounds come off in months to come with the ending of agreements put forward to delay the moment of truth, life for her citizens could become (even more) uncomfortable and controlled: indeed, it could be that there is no alternative but for her to default on the trillions of dollars of debt that are owed, with huge repercussions for the rest of the world as well as herself.
What I am saying is not new and both presidential candidates must know the truth – that their country is in a highly vulnerable position and there is no clear or easy solution to rebalance the American and global economy and support her people increasingly in need. Mr Obama has managed to delay the day of reckoning but it is getting close and it is unavoidable, though no doubt, as in Europe, attempts will be made once again to disguise or postpone the inevitable.
Whoever wins the race, it would be refreshing if he were honest with the American people and the world about the real state of fiscal affairs, and what must be done to begin to put it right, however painful. It is time for the pretence to stop and alternatives to a failed system to be discussed – and not just in America. It will take a brave man to be the next President and that perhaps is the question voters should be asking as they make their choice in November: how brave, and how honest?