President Obama Wins Second Term against all Odds

The Winning Team

By Kwabena Opong

After a grueling electioneering campaign that unfortunately mirrored an America that is yet to recognize the changing face of the world’s most diverse nation, Barack Hussein Obama, a son of Africa and the incumbent president of the Republic won a second term to the chagrin of a few who thought otherwise. The election of Mr. Obama also defied all the technicalities of prediction. At the end of it all, Obama trounced his GOP opponent Mitt Romney by 332 votes to 209 votes, an unprecedented upset considering what the polls said.

The re-election of Barack Obama is historic as it is unexpected. While bidding farewell to the staff at his Chicago campaign headquarters on November 8, the day after the elections, Obama shed tears, very unusual about him. Obama has not made any statement about that incident in spite of the various media spin on it. Only Obama should know why, but the president was probably so consumed worn out by the sheer impact of the campaign and his expectations.

If Obama was emotional the unfortunate racist developments that emerged during the campaigning could be a factor. The birthers, led by Donald Trump never let up. Bolstered by Mitt Romney’s subtle pronouncement of “I am an American born here” in his native Minnesota, the Donald and his cohorts never ceased their boyish stunts. Fox News Cartoonist Sean Selonas drew a cartoon depicting a black man being chased by a white man on horseback with a big machine gun recalling the days of KKK lynching of black people in the South. The Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch never offered any apology but gave a lame explanation that it depicted Obama’s reference to bayonets and horses when talking about the military during the final presidential debate.

Several reasons make Obama’s election victory even more spectacular. The margin of electoral college votes he won was wide off the mark predicted by the polls. But here is a president whose failure was ordained by some leaders of Grand Old Party from the day he was being sworn in. With a Democratic majority in both Houses during his first two years, Obama was able get his pet project, his health care policy otherwise known as Obamacare under way, again, to the chagrin of his opponents. The midterm elections of 2010 sealed the fate of the rest of his tenure. The new ultra conservative Tea Party wing of the Republican Party took over the House and built a brick wall of intransigence and distrust that led to a two-year period in which not much could be achieved by the administration. Ironically, most policies and measures that had been earlier formulated by the Republicans and adopted by Obama were disowned and prevented from passing in the House. In response Obama also stood his ground. The recession was not abating with unemployment stagnated at eight percent. All the indicators only showed a slow upward movement of the economy. In the meantime discontent grew among the people and Obama’s approval ratings dipped. Questions arose about his electability and his ability to lead the nation out of its morass.

In the last 100 years only three Democrats have won two successive terms; Franklin Roosevelt and Bill Clinton. Obama becomes the third president to share that honor. Bill Clinton won re-election on the strength of his success. Franklin Roosevelt, like Obama won during the Great Depression.

Franklin Roosevelt tackled the Great Depression with his New Deal policy. Since his presidential election victory in 2008, many in the media have not hesitated to compare Obama with Franklin Roosevelt. Kristine McCusker, associate professor at Middle Tennessee State University in a radio interview on WMOT-FM observes among other things that “During the Great Depression, the national unemployment rate was 25 percent unlike in 2008 when it stood at 6.7 percent – currently it stands at 7.9 percent. She goes on: “In heavy industrial centers like Chicago, Cincinnati (and) Detroit, the unemployment rate was 50 percent. And in some industrial centers in Ohio, it was 80 percent.” But Roosevelt prevailed.

FDR’s New Deal compares with Obama’s health care in several ways. Unfortunately Obama’s public works programs failed to pass in the House. Following House Majority Leader Boehner’s recent pronouncement that Obamacare is now the law of the land, America can now rest assured that it has a health delivery policy at long last.

Despite the initial polling numbers that were churned out by the media, the victory of the 44th president of the United States on November 7 was a mystery his opponent never envisaged. Republican candidate Romney losing with 209 votes defied all the predictions pundits kept throwing out. But why?

Candidate Romney, a liberal conservative, put on the robes of extreme right conservatism picking up a running mate whose politics and record in the House of Representatives describes him as a neo-conservative. While most Americans expected change after four years of high unemployment and an unpredictable economy that seemed to be heading nowhere, Romney hardly provided any credible solutions to deal with the issues at stake. If ever they had any message it did not resonate with the people. They would rather bait the American people with a promise that said nothing. Governor Romney’s prevarications on issues of interest and his near-endorsement of Obama at the final presidential debate never helped either. Paul Ryan’s performance with Vice President Biden at their debate was sophomoric, to say the least. Furthermore, the GOP made several attempts to win by any means necessary. In Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania attempts were made to change electoral laws. The targeted groups happened to be minorities.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden were comfortable with the middle classes; Romney and Ryan weren’t. Romney’s insensitive write-off of 47 percent of America served to indicate his poor grasp of the true state of affairs in the country. Writing off 47 percent of Americans left him with 53 percent to contend with.

The GOP on the other hand, failed to recognize the growing immigrant population and its political clout. Contributing on MSNBC on November 8, Michael Steel, a former Chair of the RNC remarked that about 50,000 Hispanics attain the age of 18 every month, translating into 600,000 potential voters, making that segment of the population a viable political force to reckon with. He warned that failure of the Republicans to accommodate that group would be sentencing the party to a political Siberia. The truth in Steel’s observation was made clear in the elections. 75 percent of the Hispanic vote went to the Democrats. And if anything they voted en masse to press for their heartfelt interest: immigration reform. The conventional wisdom demands that the GOP softens its hard line on immigration. If there are any lessons to learn, it is the GOP that needs to take notice of the changing face of America. Together with the growing Hispanic population, the immigrant Asian and continental African populations added to their African American the color of the nation is gradually changing into a shade of grey that needs not be ignored by any serious politician. Election 2012 was a reality check for the GOP and its candidate. Some are angry and shocked but the outcome does not change the stark realities on the ground: the America the founding fathers established is an idea that was envisaged for all the peoples of the world.

Winning the election is not everything. There is no guarantee that the Republicans would have a change of heart, neither is there any guarantee that Obama could utilize the political capital he has accrued from his victory. From his concession speech, Romney promised to work with Obama and Obama too invited Romney to work with him, while extending a hand of cooperation with the GOP. No election in America has been rabidly ideological than 2012. Obama was called a Socialist by Romney’s camp, anti-colonialist Kenyan by Newt Gingrich and a Nazi racist by Glen Beck. Obamacare was described as a socialist health care policy. Such was the climate in which the elections were fought. Obama’s victory is a reminder to the neocons in the Republican Party that ideology only works in a democracy such as this one only when it is doing the people’s will. The same goes for extreme liberals in the Democratic Party. Certainly America is bigger than all the ideologies together. As the Akan in Ghana say, wisdom does not reside in one head only. America’s progress and how to achieve it does not reside in any one ideological camp.

Barack Obama has an economy to fix and he cannot do it alone. It will take some softening of stances on both sides of the political aisle to put America back on track.


Posted by on Nov 20 2012. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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