Obama and the Rise of a New America: As President Barack Obama Begins His Second Term in Office (after His Inauguration on 21 January), Professor Said Adejumobi Looks at the New Dynamics Shaping American Society
IN THE RUN-UP TO AMERICA'S November 2012 elections, many opinion polls did not give President Barack Obama a clear win. Some predicted that it was going to be a close race in which he may win by a few votes. Others predicted that Obama may turn out to be a one-term president yielding victory to his challenger, Mitt Romney. The picture was mixed and the predictions were confusing, with personal and sectarian biases replacing scientific analysis in America's mainstream media.
From a distance, I did not think Obama ran a good political campaign with clear messages. He spent some time on Romney's deficiencies, trying to convince the voters that Romney was inconsistent in his positions and therefore could not be trusted with managing the country.
In contrast, he wanted to portray himself as a man of his words, who kept the electoral promises he had made four years ago. This may be good, but it beclouded Obama's own messages of success.
As a student of politics, I thought Obama would have had two clear messages in his campaign based on his successes. These messages could have centred on national security and the economy. Obama could possibly have posed two major questions to the electorate as his catch points. These are: Is America safer than it was four years ago? Is the American economy better than what it was four years ago? The answers to these two questions would have been a big Yes!
The American economy may not be growing at a high rate, but it is not in the woods. The economy quickly went out of recession and maintained an equilibrium under Obama. America's contemporaries in Europe are in a dip and the mess is getting messier! This was lost in Obama's unclear campaign messages.
However, what Obama appeared to have lost in formal campaign messages, he gained in organisational wizardry and long term strategic planning in mapping America's social diversity and its changing demographic landscape.
The reality of America as an immigrant country with a vast minority population from around the world; the reality of a teeming poor and middle class; the reality of women as a powerful political force; and the reality of a post-modernist society, in which young people are frenzied around social media and in search of a political identity unencumbered by the beliefs and affiliations of their parents, were things Obama tapped into to win a decisive victory.
His campaign team, which hit the ground running after his first term victory, disaggregated what is now known as the "big data", looking closely at the demographic dispersion of American society--the tastes, preferences and most likely political choices of those groups, and appealing to them in a subtle yet socially connected way!
Obama's campaign team touched on the most sensitive thing for each social group, hence their dignity as a social category. …