Kudos to Nate Silver and Barack Obama, they deserve the plaudits and bragging rights, for while most pundits called the race as “too close too call, these two conceptually and empirically placed their bet on otherwise, and won. These two are the first winners of the 2012 America decides contest. I will not write anything about Gen. David Petraus or Paula Broadwell or Chris Rock’s 44th white president.
In the 1972 US elections, the best man for the job lost and the repercussions of his loss may be said to be felt even today. The anti-war and anti-poverty hero and intellectual George McGovern (Obama’s precursor in the Democratic Party, he who campaigned for the rights of African-Americans and women to vote) faced Richard Nixon in the quest for the presidency of the United States. When Obama first ran for election, he had to rely mostly on small time donors for campaign funding, in 1972, it took the fundraising of Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Mike Nichols and Elaine May at Madison Square Garden to raise money for McGovern. His platform like Obama’s was anti-war and pro people. However, this is where the similarities end, because while McGovern could only manage to 17 electoral votes against Nixon’s 520 Obama has been drubbing his opponents. But at least McGovern lost honorably because his campaign was ethical, unlike McCain’s and Romney’s, plus Nixon had to resign in 1974 after the Watergate Scandal to avoid impeachment.
Obama’s re-election is laden with a lot of significance; this is because he is a man of conviction for what he believes in. This is a man who faced a daunting re-election campaign and despite the common knowledge that most of the American voters were against gay marriage and legalized abortions; he put on a brave face and embraced these two divisive, difficult and wrenching topics. This is a bold decision that very few here in Kenya can dare take because they fear the backlash that would ensue from their supporters (closet homophobes). Mugabe, with all his failings is at least an honest man when it concerns convictions; he is an exemplar of pro-life and anti gay marriage proponents while here at home our leaders flip-flop thinking about the next elections, afraid of taking a stand. Obama believes in America, America believes in Obama, and it has repaid him in kind. He garnered 332 electoral votes to his challenger’s 206, in popular vote; he led by 2.4 percentage points. His victory over his opponent Mitt Romney was a resounding approval by the American voters for his policies on the economy, healthcare reform, domestic and foreign affairs, comprehensive tax and immigration reforms. Obama outflanked Romney on all fronts; Romney even didn’t see it coming. Romney has himself and his party to blame for sidelining a huge chunk of voters. The party of Abe’s prattling greatly helped Barack stroll back to White House, with the rabid and contemptuous likes of Donald Trump and Romney surrogate John Sununu calling Obama ‘lazy’, ‘incompetent.’ voters were just gracing the coronation.
Obama had a robust and impressive arsenal of volunteers who have been lauded as the crown jewels of his campaign as opposed to Romney’s employees. His ecstatic and successful re-election campaign had been anchored on the promise to finish his unfinished business, soubriquets of him being a closet socialist or communist aside, it is time to get America to work. He was methodical, he went to the grassroots, he went to the people while Romney ran to the Koch Brothers, and His message struck a chord with most Americans as evidence by the high number of votes he garnered. Changing dynamics dictate that he will have to engage the forward gear for the rest of his journey towards 2016. He has a legacy to craft, he has a party to guarantee a future, and he has on his back the aspirations of the world for the abundance of world peace on sea, land and air plus the issue of climate change. The world needs to play its part, by co-operating with Obama in matters of security, terrorism, environment, human trafficking and narcotics trafficking. On the homeward front, it has been said that America is a government that taxes small, but spends big. This must have to change if the much feared coming fiscal cliff is to be avoided. The government must stop being seen as the gift that does not stop giving.
Despite his wit and resourcefulness, Romney lost, and lost resoundingly even poor old hand Karl Rove couldn’t believe his eyes. Romney predicated his toxic campaigns on outright lies and fabrications about Obama, the Democratic Party, the economy, undocumented immigrants, binders full of women, the 47 percent, Iran’s only route to the sea, the urgency of bombing Iran, horses and bayonets, Russia being America’s number one enemy and thought that American voters were stupid and undiscerning. I am not even including his musing about not caring about the poor (who were voting) because the safety net was there for them. He couldn’t have been further from the outside of the bull’s eye. He just found out whom between them and he was not good in arithmetic. On immigration, even the much maligned G.W. Bush at least considered illegal immigrants as human beings, for Romney, it is an anathema for them to be even considered amongst humans. While Obama approached and endeared voters by plain and simple language, Romney alienated majority of the voters while believing that they would miraculously vote for him.
The GOP’s war on women on pregnancy, contraception and choice was bound to backfire. With the likes of Rush Limbaugh degrading Sandra Fluke, Todd Akin in introducing “legitimate rape” into the lexicon and Richard Murdoch dragging the name of God in rape debate, women were definitely not going out with the Republicans. Romney tectonically oscillated back and forth on many issues. Young and college educated Americans, Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans, women overwhelmingly mandated Obama as a result of Romney’s platform. His party was not doing any better either; it appears that the GOP apparatchiks were an ill wind blowing no one any good, with the exception of white conservatives stuck in the old ways. His plan to engage the services of Clint Eastwood almost backfired, but thanks to the voters, they were successful. He will only be looking at the empty chair, but not occupying it. He was deluded because he confused his opinions on the voting patterns with the facts. Whatever happened to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts” rule of the thumb?
As the change and revolution juggernaut gains steam, Obama must also take a firm stand against despots who he has termed as being on the wrong side of history, in so doing; he should make sure that there are sufficient mechanisms to shield the citizens from the aftermath of his handling of the despots. So far he has been able to re-invent Burma and success (although very little) is starting to show up. He must also do more for Palestinians; America’s pontification and professed rock-solid unwavering support for Israel must be looked at from a fresh perspective. To fail to review the terms of American-Israel-Palestinian engagement is to go the Sheldon Adelson-Romney way. Israeli government through its minister for Interior Eli Yeshai has unequivocally stated that it intends to “send Gaza back to the middle ages”, Gilad Sharon has called for the total and final annihilation of Gazans and America is eerily silent on this pronouncement. Obama must not always be ready to lecture Palestinians on the right of Israelis to defend themselves, but also in the same vein condemn Israeli settlement expansion and repression of nonviolent Palestinian dissent.
A middle way must be found to curtail the senseless bloodletting. Men like Richard Goldstone ought to feature in the picture. It was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who said that “it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.” Obama must not scupper the chance he now has, he must be ahead of the curve and act using his expertise and prerogative while he still has the time and wherewithal to act and help the hapless Palestinian children have a future where they can grow into adulthood without being killed by IDF.
Some perverse and offensive republicans, without hiding their disdain for the common folks had sworn in no uncertain terms, in rank hatred that they would embark on making sure Obama was a one term president, instead of working for the American people which is a fundamental reason for their positions. The whole kit and caboodle of the Birther Movement was vile, virulent and relentless in its attacks on President Obama. Obama’s first term was incredibly frustrating and his programmes stonewalled but now that he does not have to seek another term in office, he must show them that he is above pettiness. America itself is split down the middle not just between blue and red, but racially. The razor-sharp fault lines are clearly evident going by the recent petitions for cessations from some quarters. He must seek to find to heal the wounds (both historical and current-day) that does not heal the mutual antipathy and the gap between conservative and mostly white American fundamentalists and come to a common ground that hate has to be discarded for love and harmony. America must not negatively change beyond recognition towards the threat of sectarianism. The gulf that exists must be closed; unity must be tie that binds all Americans. The hope must not turn into disappointment.