di Joe DiMento*. I am pleased to be reporting weekly on the United States fall elections for QuotidianoLegale. My focus will be on legal news and issues of central interest to Italians and to Europeans more generally. I aim to keep you informed about major developments, predictions of outcomes, and developing positions of the candidates.

For now: my observations on the conventions, the Republican last week in Tampa, Florida; the Democratic, ending last night, in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Both were in swing states. According to the Los Angeles Times, eight states are “in play” at this point, not leaning predictably toward either candidate. These are Nevada, Wisconsin, Utah, New Hampshire, Iowa, Virginia —

as well as Florida, and North Carolina.]
In short there was much similar about the “parties.” There was a little different, and there was little substance.

On the similar side:

Most everyone who spoke grew up poor with a caring, generous, and strong [Sicilian-American] mother or nonna, drove rusted cars, and ate off ironing boards or other used furniture.

Everyone loves women and thinks they are our strength and our future.

Everyone’s families did the right thing growing up “because that’s what Americans do.” Or because “we are the greatest nation in history.”

Or as Former President Clinton quipped during his 45 minute speech: everyone’s father was “born in a log cabin he built.”

Neither party talked about drones, extraordinary rendition, or torture.

On the not so similar side:

The Republican’s had balloons; the Democrats, confetti.

The platforms differed dramatically on a woman’s right to reproductive services, on who can legally marry, on energy extraction schedules, on the role of government, and on how to interact with China and Russia.

The Republicans argued that Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus.” The Democrats added the word Jerusalem to the party platform at the last minute: “President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party’s platform should as well.” Another last minute addition to the formal policy statement of the Democrats: “God,” a reference previously not to be found.

The Republicans mentioned Afghanistan and the war in Iraq much less frequently than the Democrats. As to whether someone is “better off now than four years ago”, a standard refrain in American Presidential campaigns: The Republicans said no; the Democrats quipped that the nation was getting there and no,  was “not better off”.
Health care: the most obvious target of the Republican desire for change is to repeal “Obamacare”, the President’s landmark health reform law, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

On climate change:

The President: “Yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future.”

Governor Romney: “Four years ago, President Obama promised to begin slowing the rise of the oceans….And heal the planet.” “My promise is to help you and to your family.”
Whether President Obama would get a bump in the polls as Candidate Mitt Romney [a mini bounce] did after the Republican Convention was an immediate question that followed the President’s speech. The preliminary answer is in. According to the Gallup Poll on September 7, a day after the convention concluded, President Obama leads Mitt Romney 48 percent to 45 percent. Previously the poll indicated Obama leading Romney 47 percent to 46 percent. These bounces have little predictive value. Most analyses continue to assert that many Americans are decided and will not change their views no matter how many Clint Eastwoods and George Clooneys endorse the other guy–baring a major change in unemployment and the markets: it probably still “is the economy, stupid, the economy.”

* professore ordinario all’Università di California Irvine

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