As I write this piece, a fierce electoral battle is going on between President Barack Obama (BO) and Governor Mitt Romney (MR) for presidential office in the United States on November 6, 2012. While elections are too close to call – I can venture to say that Obama will prevail on Tuesday, admittedly with a narrow margin than in 2008.
Why is this election so close or rather more competitive than in 2008 when super star Barack Obama was so popular? Depending on whom you ask you will get a different set of answers. Perhaps a more relevant question to ask is: why do we (the world citizens) need BO to remain in the White House for four more years?
To begin with, as things stand now – United States of America is so polarized such that two visions of America have emerged. On one hand you have a Obama’s side of neo-liberal, social democratic model, which in comparison is compassionate, people-centered and believes in wealth sharing among citizens. Call it the pro-99% of the people.
Contrast this to the old GOP Republican one championed by Mitt Romney, which is mean, anti-people and basically reactionary whose tenets are: each man for himself and God for us all. The goal in this model is to concentrate the bulk of wealth in the hands of the few 1%.
This divide between rich and poor, is what is driving campaign strategies and methods of attacking each other. Therefore depending on the ideological choice, determines the economic path United States will be on. The question is, which one will the people opt for?
The Mitt’s Republicans accuse Obama’s camp that his relatively socialistic measures taken since he took office 4 years ago – such as strengthening of social safety net, health care, modest taxes regime and attempts to transfer some wealth from the super rich to poor Americans – has caused the economy to grow at a slow pace or failed completely. They claim this has hindered creation of jobs. It is time they demand, that they should take over White House so that they can implement – pure market economics, elimination of taxes, abolition of the historic “Obamacare” and all regulations including those protecting our environments.
In short, Mitt’s people would prefer favoring the rich – keeping the poor segments of Americans and indeed others around the globe, only as good reservoirs of cheap labor. No need to worry about their housing, education, health, food and their general wellbeing.
President Obama and his social democrats counter that – their approach is the better one because of its participatory impact in which not only responsibilities are shared but also wealth. That everyone should be treated as humans and have a bit from the world’s resources. Given a chance they argue, their strategy would succeed in bringing back prosperity and glory to the United States. They point to the recent growth of 2% in GDP in the last three consecutive quarters as evidence that the economy under their watch has turned the corner.
Of course there are other nuances to this debate, but by and large the battle coalesces around this polarization. Each side then designs the attack machine based on their beliefs to decimate the other. As a result America is now virtually split into two.
Beginning in 2010 when ‘SuperPacs’ began to legally participate in campaigns, millions of advertizing dollars have been raised and spent on this election. A SuperPac can contribute as much as $10 million without any questions asked. Consequently by Tuesday at least six billion dollars would be spent on this presidential election. This is unprecedented.
This is where our concern begins. How can one trust a democratic election to be fair which is so heavily influenced by money? The more money you have it appears, the greater influence you have on the outcome. Fortunately Obama is surviving because of the support he gets from Holly Wood crowd and the Hip-hop faithful, who complement his small donations from youth sourced through social media. Otherwise it would be undoable.
[In last year’s Zambia’s elections – PF escaped the onslaught from MMD’s Rupiah Banda’s huge advertizing budget because some Dandy’s song “Don’t KuBeba” neutralized the message].
In United States, we have seen that due to negative Ads on Obama, some of which are purely racial, have helped Gov. Romney to catch up in a race which was otherwise Obama’s at the beginning of October, 2012. Before that, Romney was unelectable. Some SuperPacs have used money to polish up Mitt’s image. From being an extreme right winger, recently he has been painted as a moderate centralist, for example.
Therefore, if the rights and freedoms of ordinary folks around the globe are to be protected, we need in the White House a moderate like Barack Obama, someone who has a balanced world view. Since when Obama came in the picture, he ended the Iraq War and the American image in the world is now viewed positively. On the international scene, Barack Obama is 20:1 more preferred than Romney.
In particular, in the Middle East and Muslim World, the hatred for America has abated for the most part. This is in spite of Obama being the one to eliminate Osama Bin Laden and the confusion caused by the Arab Spring Revolution, which saw Gaddafi and Mubarak disappear from the scene.
But to the republicans, backed by the Tea Party and Free Masons, all these initiatives by BO are seen as weakness on the part of an American President. They want in White House someone who is confrontational and war monger like George W. Bush.
For, in the back of Romney’s mind – the idea that America may be a dying empire is not only unacceptable but scares them. You can easily see that in the way Mitt fears the rise of China. If elected on day one, MR says that – “he would declare China a currency manipulator”. This is a careless statement which does not take into calculation the reaction from the Chinese, who are holding some trillion dollars worth of US Treasury Bonds. What if China recalls that?
Moreover, the concept of sharing the world’s wealth, á la Obama, should make sense even to the Republicans. How would they feel If say, the Chinese grew so large as to monopolize and usurp all the global strategic resources? Would they like it? Thus, the only sensible New World Order is the one where world-citizens can cooperate and share resources and wealth generated from them. Direct confrontation or some selfish scheme for the 1% is not an option.
Africans, blacks, and people of color who wield very little economic power and generally form long queues among the 99% had better identified themselves with Obama’s thesis. Even those of us who have crossed the line, voting strategically or in solidarity still remains relevant. I am aware that some Africans have complained that Obama has not paid much attention to the continent. Even though, is he not a better devil than Mitt Romney?
Given the pressure on BO by Congress, how can we expect him to deliver favorable programs to Africa? Hopefully in the next term there may be just enough energy and latitude to remember Africa.
Hence, although sometimes it is difficult to predict American voters – guided by facts, I believe that they will return Barack Obama to White House. Let us finally examine some issues.
Everybody knows that Obama being the first Black President, some people have refused to accept this reality from day one.
From early on, the Republican Congressmen and its establishment decided to block Obama’s agenda completely. Leaving no room at all for compromise. They’ve been voting that way ever since BO occupied White House. Consequently the change that Obama promised fizzled out.
But in spite of that Obama kept on pushing some things through the uncooperative Congress, most notably the “healthcare reforms” which are benefiting some 40 million Americans.
Although Barack Obama found the economy in the tank, he has managed to turn it around. A GDP growth of 2% is not a small feat. Look at the mess in EU. The unemployment rate has also fallen to less than 8%. These are indications that his prescriptions are working. Why interrupt this trend now?
Many people have forgotten that the 2008/9 American economic crisis triggered an economic meltdown around the globe. His (BO) tough decisions among them the bailouts to auto industry as well to the Wall Street barons and Banks even if some of these caused the crisis in the first place, saved the day. If he didn’t act a severe depression would have ensued and putting probably capitalism as we know it in danger. Nobody credits Obama for having saved capitalism from total collapse.
Obama constantly fights for the middle class, who if not careful would lose its current share. High interest rates on their debts with banks and loss of their savings to speculators and gamblers continue to reduce their standard of living. Left unprotected, the middle class size would shrink.
Also Obama’s inclusiveness, e.g. “don’t ask don’t tell” gay people friendly, and the liberal immigration policies which have opened up opportunities for new comers to US such as from Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere, should work in favor of B. Obama.
Putting all these facts together in defending his four year term – should boost his chances of winning at least 270 electoral colleges sufficient for him to retain the White House. I would therefore be very surprised if he loses. Although many Gallup polls and pundits are predicting a race too close to call, but I choose to believe those who are reporting that in those critical/pivotal states like Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, etc., Obama is leading in more than half of them. If he is elected in these states maybe just enough for him to pull through. This is especially so since when Super storm Sandy struck, because unlike GWBush, Obama responded swiftly and handled the crisis presidentially. Let’s wait and see!
Toronto, November 4th, 2012
Kaela B Mulenga