Magazine article New African

The Tenacity of Hope! ... 'It's Not a Traditional America Anymore'

Magazine article New African

The Tenacity of Hope! ... 'It's Not a Traditional America Anymore'

Article excerpt

Four years ago, the first black man to become President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, was talking about "change" and "hope". Four years later, his message to take the country "forward" has been rewarded with re-election. So, now that re-election is in the bag, what should President Obama do--especially for his African-American constituency who voted for him in their millions?, Leslie Goffe reports from Washington DC

BARACK OBAMA IS, TO QUOTE poet Aime Cesaire, at the rendezvous of victory". He is expected to achieve everything in his second term as President of the United States of America that he was prevented from achieving in his first, frustrating term in office. "The single most important thing we want to achieve," the Republican senator, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had declared, "is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

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The Republicans did their very best to convince Americans that their country's first black president was not a fit or qualifled commander in chief. 'They stymied his stimulus plans; caused the government to default on its debt; and caused the country's credit rating to crash--all this to turn voters against Obama's re-election.

But despite the very real obstacles placed in Obama's path, his opponents failed to limit him to just one term, and make of him an historical aberration and accident of American political history.

When it became clear early on Election Night, 6 November 2012, that Obama had won a second term in office, beating Mitt Romney by more than 3 million votes and running up 62, more electoral college votes than the 270 needed to secure a win (the final tally was 332 for Obama against 206 for Romney), far right Republicans began to weep and wail and gnash their teeth.

"The white establishment is now the minority," wailed the conservative TV pundit, Bill O'Reilly, as state after state voted for Obama. Only the former slave-owning states in America's Deep South stood behind Romney. But they did not have enough electoral-college votes to make Romney president.

It was a shock to the senses of the Republican money-men who spent close to a billion dollars to get Romney elected, to watch on Election Night as battleground states (where they had spent so much money on TV ads vilifying Obama) went one after another to Obama.

So distressed was the rightwing radio host, Rush Limbaugh, that he could not sleep. "I went to bed last night thinking we're outnumbered," said Limbaugh, a hero of America's angry rightwing community. "I went to bed last night thinking we've lost the country."

The Republicans had convinced themselves that Mitt Romney would win because he had enjoyed success in the presidential debates and because highly questionable polls convinced them that the Mormon from Michigan would beat President Obama in a landslide.

Indeed, so convinced was Romney of victory that his campaign managers spent 25,000 dollars on fireworks for a victory celebration that, sadly for him, would never take place.

Worse than this, Romney prepared an acceptance speech but not a loser's speech. This is, in part, why Romney waited so long on Election Night to concede defeat, and why a hastily written concession speech, which he delivered through teary, bloodshot eyes, was one of the shortest in American political history.

"Shell-shocked" is how one of Romney's senior aides described him after the beating Obama gave him. This victory has given Obama the opportunity to finish what he started in his first term. In 2008, he said he believed in "hope" and in "change." In 2012, he says he believes in going "forward".

We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America," President Obama said in his acceptance speech. "That's where we need to go--forward." On Election Day, Obama's volunteers knocked, they said, on 7 million doors, handed out hundreds of thousands of campaign leaflets, and called close to a million people on the phone to remind them not to forget to vote. …

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