International ties

China becomes scapegoat of American illness in mid-term election

By Han Dongping (
Updated: 2010-11-04 10:59
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The US mid-term election on Tuesday was a very important event in American political life. As most polls indicated, Democrats lost its control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans amid high unemployment and unprecedented government deficit. Just two years ago, voters elected Barack Obama with their anger toward former President George W. Bush's unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In just two years, voters' anger has turned against Obama and the Democrats because of his administration's inability to improve the unemployment situation in the US and his huge government spending in rescuing banks and big business.

All politics is local, as Dick O'Neil, former US House speaker from Massachusetts once said. Most Americans cast their votes according to their own economic situation and what is happening in their local communities. However, foreign policies always loom large in American politics. This year is no exception. The Obama administration has skirmished a few times with China in the past two years partly because many heavyweight Democrats wanted to accumulate political capital with American voters by taking a tough position on China. Despite all that, many Republican candidates were still using China as a scapegoat in their campaign efforts. One Republican video advertisement shows a Chinese professor and his Chinese students. In the ad, the Chinese professor is saying that Rome fell, and other empires fell, and now the US is falling, all because they made the same mistake of overspending. We are the biggest creditor to the US, and now the Americans have to work for us. The implied message is that the Obama administration is getting the US deeper into debt, and will cause the US to go bankrupt. Therefore, voters should elect Republican candidates to get back control of Congress.

The Democrats were using similar methods to sway voters. I went to a Democratic rally in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, recently, where former President Bill Clinton came to speak to rally support for the Democratic candidate Heath Shuler for reelection to Congress. More than 5,000 people showed up to hear Clinton's speech. Downtown Asheville was filled with political slogans and signs. One slogan said: Stop Secret Corporate Ad Buys. I wondered what it meant. I went up to one woman who held such a sign, and asked her what her message was. She said that countries like China were infiltrating US politics. They provided money to US corporations, and they used the money to buy secret political advertisement to sway voters in the US. She was not very friendly to me when I asked her the question.

Whichever party controls Congress, in the end, will not change American foreign policy significantly, and will not change over American domestic politics very much, either. One prominent American scholar once said that elections do not change much. Social movement does. I think that he is right. The American political system is one of the most conservative systems in the world, and it resists change. Even though around election time, politicians always say how important and crucial the election results will be for their future, after the vote it is often business as usual again.

One thing is certain though. The United States is on a path to decline for the moment, with its unemployment and unprecedented government deficit. It does not matter which party is in control of Congress, it will not be able to change this trend.

At the end of World WarⅡ, the US held 75 percent of the world's gold, and produced 50 percent of the world's GDP. All the major countries were indebted to the US at the time. In a little over 60 years, the US government squandered its huge fortunes over many unpopular wars. The Americans have fought more wars than any other country in the world since then. Many American people used to say that war is good for business. That may be true for business people. There is no doubt that many businesses prospered with American wars. But wars are not necessarily good for the state or ordinary citizens in the long run.

It is time for American politicians to stop blaming others for its problems and illnesses, and face the challenges and problems they generated themselves. American politicians always preach to the world about the virtues of democracy. If a democratic system of government cannot correct itself, and is always fighting more wars, what good is democracy?