Sixth November, 2012: The Day America Politically Came of Age.
No sooner had Obama won his second term as the most powerful man on earth, than the problems of governing an already disunited state of America surfaced. Any attempt to figure out how he won the elections will not only prove inconclusive but also disingenuous. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the Americans have spoken and that it is worth listening to their mandate. Many political analysts had long predicted the outcome of the election, but save for the first presidential debate, it could have been a damp squib. Thanks to Obama’s lacklustre performance, which many may now think was deliberate, a new life was injected into the race; as Romney was hitherto considered as lightweight. (Photo: Abdulai Mansaray, author)
There were a lot of issues at stake, ranging from abortion, gay marriage, taxation and right down to unemployment. The main talking point was the economy, which as it stands should have been Obama’s Achilles heel. It is no secret that the economy is toxic, but the “audacity of hope” that greeted Obama’s first term had been so euphoric that the expectations were stretched to a utopian level. We know that the president inherited a junk economy, courtesy of fighting two wars simultaneously, on the American Express credit card. For Obama to have turned the economy round at 360 in his first term would have been nothing short of a miracle.
But with the high dose of “hope” that was fed into the American psyche; the least that was expected of Obama was to walk on water. So with high unemployment, a crippling national debt rising into the trillions, and a housing market with an unprecedented rate of foreclosures, how did Obama pull it off? That is what seems to baffle most political observers. America is known for its religious persuasions, and it is therefore not surprising that Americans continue to believe in the second coming; a tenet that Americans have seemingly accorded to Obama. Giving Obama a second chance feels like an apparent manifestation of their belief in “the second coming”.
And true to form, Obama greeted his jubilant fans on the night of his victory with his unerring theme of hope, that “the best is yet to come”. And this promise is against the background of country that is facing “a fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax rises, unless agreement is reached”. Indications are that wholesale horse trading is on the cards, if Obama should succeed in his hopes. Tax rise and spending cuts do not make for a good recipe for “the best is yet to come”. It is no secret that failure to reach an agreement with the Republicans, who are still licking their wounds, would risk another recession. With the Republicans retaining control of the House of Representatives, Obama would have been relieved to hear Mr. Boehner, who negotiated the “grand bargain” on the stimulus package, pledged that “we are ready to be led, not as democrats or republicans, but as Americans. We want you to succeed”. That would be a lullaby to Obama’s ears; earning him some more hours to catch up on lost sleep.
Well, it is time the Republicans learnt their lesson. When Obama proposed his stimulus package, it was roundly opposed by the Republicans, including Mitt Romney. To the average American, especially the workers of the auto industry, Republicans were seen as anti-American or against the average working American. Considering that it was the Republicans who presided over the collapse of the economy, their opposition of the stimulus package did not go down well with the electorate. It was therefore not surprising that even though Obama’s recovery model had fallen short of expectations, the Republicans remained saddled with the blame; for which they have been richly rewarded in the recent election.
The Republican cause was equally not helped by their Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. With his pedigree as a successful businessman, you would expect that he would have been the best candidate to right the wrongs of the economy. Ironically, that placed him in the category of the 1% that has been blamed for the demise of the economy. The ordinary man on the street could not relate to Romney, as he confirmed with his disparaging remarks about the 47% Americans suffering from the cancer of “entitlement”. His stance against Russia and his apparent eagerness to go to war with presumably Iran, did not only portray him as short on the world stage but also too “George Bushesque”. Romney must have miscalculated the American appetite for war or world domination. He came across as brash and as someone who would shoot first and ask questions later.
George Bush succeeded with his gospel of war because the average American was still seething from the effects of 911 and baying for revenge. The main culprit of 911 had been given another postcode by Obama, and in effect given a lot of Americans some closure. This time, Americans were more concerned about putting food on the table; something that Romney misunderstood during the campaign season. Like a typical politician, Romney tried to be everything to every man. By the time Americans went to the polls, Romney had opposed everything he later supported; leaving Americans confused as to where he stood on topical issues. Even nature conspired against him; and this coincided with the apparent improvement of the job sector.
Many critics may want to attribute Obama’s election for a second term to the changing face of America’s demographics. There may be some truth in that, but with a struggling economy, and with the economy as the main issue, electing Obama, was a manifestation of more than meets the eye. The main political parties may be at each other’s throats, but the electorate seems to have seen beyond the prism of bi-partisan politics. The Republicans have now found themselves in an uncomfortable catch 22 situation. If they back Obama’s reforms and he succeeds in getting American out of its financial quagmire, the Democrats may want to claim monopoly to that. If they oppose and plunge the country deeper into a state of financial coma, the electorate will not forgive them again. They can either stick or twist; the choice is theirs. America has come of age indeed.
By the way, this is Obama’s last term in office (as if he needed a reminder). Mr. Obama, feel free to pay homage to Kenya with a visit now. Don’t worry about the next election as it won’t count against your chances this time. It doesn’t matter whether it is Lunsar, Lusaka, Nairobi or Gbankaya, just turn up and let’s have some “Akuna matata”. Lest you forget, the British Prime Minister congratulated Obama while on a visit to a refugee camp near Syria, where he pledged full support to Anti-Assad regime fighters. Ring a bell? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Let’s have a free, fair and PEACEFUL election in Sa Lone.
Don’t forget to mark your ballot box before you leave the polling booth.