I envy Americans. The choice they face in their coming election is so clear. The choice we Israelis will face in our next election couldn’t be more muddled.
The choice in the United States is so stark because nearly every policy the Republican administration has put into action has failed, and in just the ways that the Democrats predicted. The implosion of the economy, the metastasization of the national debt, the failure of the adventure in Iraq, the destabilization of the Middle East and now the Russian periphery, the impending disappearance of the arctic ice cap–you name it, the Democrats were right and the Republicans were wrong. During the last eight years, the Democrats erred only when a) they assumed that the Republicans would pursue a risky policy in a responsible way (as in Iraq) or b) when they were too frightened to speak up clearly against insane policies that were popular with the electorate (as with the Bush tax cuts).
Israel, too, faces economic and social ills and threats to its security. But here, over the last eight years, the policy choices have not been as plain, the facts on the ground have been ambiguous, and the political opposition has not offered clear alternatives. The United States has been ruled from the far right since George Bush came into office; Israel has been ruled from the center during that same period.