Why This Election Doesn’t Matter Either

In 2008, I wrote a post entitled Why This Election Doesn’t Matter. In it, I argued that despite the substantive differences between Obama and McCain, that once a nation was in decline, the policies of individual statesmen, no matter how skilled, made little difference. Looking back over the last four years, I think events have confirmed my prediction. We are still mired in a war in Afghanistan, the deficit is still setting records, and there has been no real economic reform or recovery. The trajectory continued uninterrupted. So, I’m reprinting my post from 2008 with only the substitution of the word ┬áRomney for McCain:

Only a fool would say that there are not substantive differences between Barack Obama and MItt Romney. Yet, in the end, these differences are irrelevant to the fate of the United States. Once an empire begins to decline; reversal is almost impossible. This is particularly true, when financial engineering has replaced real achievement. When a nation reaches that point, then there are few real sources of wealth available to it. As Kevin Phillips has pointed out:

On the edge of decline the Spanish had gloried in their New World gold and silver; the Dutch, in their investment income and lending to princes and czarinas; and the British, in their banks, brokers, and global financial network. In none of these situations, however, could financial services succeed in upholding the national preeminence that had been earlier built by explorers, conquistadores, maritime skills, innovative science and engineering, the first railroads, electrical dynamos, and great iron and steel works. Invariably, power and greatness passed to new explorers, innovators and industrialists.

Each of those declining empires had skilled statesmen who appreciated the true situation of their countries and tried to restore its preeminence. In every case they failed, because the power of existing political factions to defend their own interests was too great. Consider that Spain was far richer and more powerful than the U.S. in the 16th Century. And yet, it fell very swiftly. If the Count-Duke of Olivares couldn’t save Spain, who would bet that Mitt Romney or Barack Obama can save the United States?

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