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Heavy burden awaits the next US president

A struggling economy will force the next president to take decisions that will anger the American public.
Last modified: 7 Nov 2012 01:51
Whoever wins the election will have to deal with tax increases and cuts in government services [Reuters]

I’m sitting in this gigantic and strangely dark convention hall where President Barack Obama is scheduled to appear tonight. In the background, I can hear small tractors moving tables, chairs and metal barriers all around. There are cranes lifting up the lighting experts who are working to create the perfect combination of red and blue in the background. I can’t help but think that it’s somewhat sad that the crews have done such a nice job blending the colours, when the campaigns have worked so hard to divide blue and red America.

This is the hard part. After months and months on the campaign trail, there is very little I can do but sit in the hall and wait. There is a guy sleeping in his chair just down the table from me, but that just seems inappropriate.

In these last few moments before I go on camera, I’m thinking not about who will win, but what they’ll have to deal with when they do. Every election the victor comes out, and if they haven’t been in the office before I sense a change in their demeanor. It is as if, the heavy mantle of the office is placed on their shoulders in that very moment.

There is no way to know right now if this will be a continued burden, or a freshly felt one come election night. I do know, the next president has a very heavy burden to bear. A still struggling economy, the impending fiscal cliff (tax increases and cuts in government services), not to mention whatever the world throws at them.

Both candidates have talked about the deficit and debt. I can sum up their arguments – both are bad – and they can make it better. They very rarely mention exactly what that will mean. It makes sense, who wants to tell voters I’m going to take away some government services, and raise some taxes?

I’ve watched the last Congress and they couldn’t come anywhere close to a decision on cutting the federal budget. In fact, they had their fair share of fights about giving the American public exactly what they want; less taxes, more services.

Whoever wins tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever it actually ends should be prepared. They will be taking on not just the mantle of responsibility but the knowledge that they are going to have to make Americans very angry. They also realise this campaign has not begun to prepare the general public for what lies ahead.