For the past five years or so, China has been receiving more and more attention during U.S. elections, particularly presidential races when at least a portion of the American electorate is actually paying attention.
Although the next big race does not take place until 2012, we Americans have this quaint custom of perpetual presidential elections. Since we’re now already halfway through 2011, the 2012 presidential contest is in full swing.
Just so you China watchers and enthusiasts know what to look for during the remaining 15 months or so, here are the reasons why I think we’ll have plenty of China-related campaign fodder to sift through this cycle:
1. The Bad Economy — this is always at the top of the list of course. Whenever unemployment is high, politicians need to find someone to blame. Although their first target is always someone in the opposing political party, a foreign nation often occupies the number two spot on the Shit List. Moreover, if the topic is jobs, what better nation to demonize than the largest manufacturer in the world, the place where so many U.S. companies are expanding these days? Expect more of the same.
2. Huntsman — the presence of Jon Huntsman, Republican nominee for president and former Ambassador to China, should make for some interesting rhetoric during the primary process. (Foreign readers: that’s when American political parties choose their nominee from a slate of wannabes to compete in the general election against another brain dead meat sack from the other party.) If Huntsman gets any sort of traction at all early on, expect his fellow Republicans to smack him upside the head not only with his stint working for The Devil Incarnate Obama, but also his close ties with The Godless Red Chi-Coms China. The least we can expect is a photoshopped Huntsman in flagrante delicto having carnal relations with a panda.
3. Extremism — speaking of extreme attack advertising, China has long been a favourite target of both edges of America’s political parties. To the left, China is a human rights disaster and font of all U.S. labour problems. To the right, China is the enemy of Jesus Christ (something to do with the One Child Policy and restrictions on Bible salesmen – don’t ask me, I don’t get it) and Adam Smith. With the Republicans looking at a nasty primary season, where their candidates will try and out-extreme each other to get the attention of the outpatient wing of the party, China might end up being that convenient crowbar you find lying on the ground as you walk into a room full of bad guys. (I’m playing way too many first-person shooters these days.)
Moreover, since many Democrats are currently disaffected with Obama’s track record thus far, particularly with his handling of the economy, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some noise from the Dems on how he has not been “tough enough” with China with respect to trade, the RMB, etc.
4. Deficit/Debt Fetishists — perhaps the number one domestic policy issue this year is the fiscal deficit and national debt. This has come as a surprise to many political analysts and economists, seeing as how the U.S. is experiencing slow growth and high unemployment. Then again, there is no IQ test for public office in the United States, so you never know what these guys will come up with next as a policy priority.
What’s important, say the mentally deficient, is cutting the deficit so that the U.S. doesn’t have to borrow more money from the Atheist Yellow Horde Chinese. Expect the Republican candidates to vie with one another to be crowned the “King/Queen of Spending Cuts” during the election, who will excuse any and all draconian ravaging of America’s social insurance system with the following: “If we don’t cut Program X, then the Chinese will take physical possession of Las Vegas as a surety.” Yes, this is the relatively new phenomenon of using the threat of China to garner support for one’s domestic policies, what I’ve dubbed ‘China Threat 2.0′. Don’t believe me? Here’s some early proof of the lunacy, albeit at the State level.
5. Nationalism — always good for some nonsensical campaign claptrap. Again, mostly because of the exciting Republican primary process, expect a great deal of flag waving, pandering to the army, and gay bashing. You may not think that gay bashing has anything to do with loving one’s country, but if you believe that God will smite your nation (like it apparently did to the city of New Orleans) if it’s too nice to The Gays, then smacking them around is very patriotic indeed.
Nationalist rhetoric will include the concepts of American exceptionalism and variations on the “We’re number one!” theme. This can’t be done without a nemesis, a Superpower in the making, a point of comparison, hopefully a nation that is evil, Communist, and Godless. In short, China.
Are you getting excited yet?
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