Obama’s winning of his second bid for the White House was an indisputable victory and the fruit of a concentrated effort to attract moderate voters and that broad segment known as Middle America. Even more than two candidates and two parties, the face-off here was between two contrasting visions of America, and voters chose the one projected by Obama and the Democrats. The majority of Americans refused to identify with the radicalism of several components of the Republican right, and even corporate America recognized the risk of populist Tea Party tendencies.
But the aspect that most directly interests us as Italians and Europeans lies in the prospects that will open up in the wake of yesterday’s election outcome. Obama was the first president since Roosevelt to run for office with such a high unemployment rate and in the midst of such a grave an economic crisis – inherited but, in any case, “his”. He won because he relied on the maturity and responsibility of his fellow citizens. And Americans believed in an “unpoliticised” politics that called for great sacrifices in the name of results that, while they may not yet be visible, were evidently perceived as “fair”.
It is clear that Obama was awarded this second term by that vast segment of American society that has been asked to make major sacrifices in recent years and that, nevertheless, felt part of a project designed for the general good and, above all, with their children in mind. This in a context in which, as Robert Reich pointed out, the same 1% of America’s richest that in the 1970s held 12% of the wealth, by 2007 was in possession of 24% of it.
That is why I say that America comes away from the polls a stronger America. A new America encouraging a new Europe that, thanks not least to the initiatives promoted in Rome and Brussels by President Monti, is in the process of being built. Obama’s America confirms Europe and Italy’s identification with the values, political vision and future that have clearly emerged on how to overcome the crisis and, indeed, on how to use the opportunities it offers to better govern political and economic processes.
The renewed convergence between the United States and Europe will stem from that common vision, particularly when it comes to Italy, whose government of the past year has been rooted in serious, responsible and reliable commitment to its citizens. The role of good policy whose sole objective is the good of the citizens emerges invigorated and, I would say, finds a firmer footing with the results of the American elections.
The United States and the European Union together represent over 50% of world GDP. These elections also create a more solid platform for collaboration in contexts such as the G8 and the G20, and for strengthening global growth, promoting market stability and building a safer world. In my opinion, they also decry all talk of the decline of America and of transatlantic relations.