Black British View of the President Obama Election Victory and its Domestic and Global Implications:
By Donovan Reynolds Blogger and Independent Writer
Barrack Obama and the Democrat Party in the US secured a second term in government 7am GMT on Wednesday watched by thousands of TV viewers on this side of the Atlantic in a nail biting victory that at time was too close to call. Addressing cheering supporters in Chicago at his campaign headquarters he promised ‘The best is yet to come’. David Cameron the British Prime minister tweeted him a warm congratulatory message from a tour of the Middle East promising to continue the special relationship that the UK and the US both share. The electoral victory was well clear of the 270 needed for victory and his winning margin passed the two million mark with the Republican taking all but one of the marginal electoral battleground states.
Mitt Romney the Republican Runner called Obama at 1 am prior to his concession speech called Mr Obama to ceded defeat after a prolonged period of number crunching that went against him. Shortly after, he made an eloquent and balanced concession speech thanking his running mate Paul Ryan, his family, Donors and supporters of the Republican Party. Romney looked emotionally drained but was gracious enough to urge on the need for a consensus, he urged Americans to ‘put people before politics’.
Obamas Victory speech was eloquent, statesmanlike, soaring and pragmatic and may well go down in history among the 100 greatest speech of all time. The inspirational grandiloquence of “We are an American Family and we rise and fall together” is a clever catch phrase along with a riled up rhetoric that followed a will echo beyond Chicago in a melodious way into the apogee of history.
It received a robust review in the British press and was cheered on by his protagonist in the Centre and liberal left of the political spectrum in the UK. Judging from the feedback in the media and by the rabble rousing left wingers in the pubs of London they were happy overall that the Republicans were trounced. Conservatives such a Richard Goodwin in the Evening Standard chided Romney for failing to express the American way in his election campaign like the late Republican President Ronald Regan. He also criticised him of portraying an un-American vision.
My personal Criticism of Governor Romney having watched the election from a distance was that on a personal level he may have been a nice person but his campaign came across as too old school, too white, too male, too rich, too against immigrants and too out of touch with the ordinary Americans.
History have a way of evening out the playing field after years of oppression and discrimination against immigrants ,blacks, LGBT, young people and women they have now craftily mastered the way of using the electoral college system of selecting the American President designed ironically by the Republicans. The feelings among white wing protagonist that I spoke to is that there is a growing fear that Republicans are finished in the future as an electoral force at a presidential level in the US. With the emergence of a more diversified and multicultural America the political tectonic plate has shifted in favour of an urban voting pattern.
Will this therefore trigger a call by the Republican for a reform of the electoral college voting model in favour of a first past the post system that we are accustom to in the UK?
Alternatively this threat of an erosion of the US Republican power base in my opinion may force the Party to broaden their policy tent and distance themselves from the neoconservative and the Tea Party’s unscrupulous agenda. But this might be wishful thinking as the Old Republican brigade are stubborn and entrenched in their old ways already the bloodletting conversation coming out of the Republican party is that one of the failure of Mitt Romney in the debates that he lost the election by foolishly occupying the political middle ground.
So the Democrats won the argument by portraying the Republicans as fixated on, reducing the economic deficit at the expense of growth. On the other hand they were portrayed as a party of tax concession givers for the Rich and neglecting the poor and middleclass, Pro special interest Gung hoe on foreign policy, anti- Immigration and against the interest of 47 per cent of American people. The one dispiriting aspect of this election that shocked the British Public was the overall cost of the election the price tag was a whopping US $2.5 billion (£1,6billion).This was in part to the party’s being good at eliciting funds from their donors. This happened in the wake of a Supreme Court Ruling in 2010 which removed the restriction on campaign fundraising spending. This is not good for democracy as money from large donors comes with an expectation. Media Moguls in the US must be licking their chops from the huge swathe of advertising money spent on negative advertisement that fuel hatred and polarise the already deeply polarised American society and must feel hurtful especially the urban poor in the US who continue to slide down the greasy pole of upward mobility. Notwithstanding it was felt that the election process was incident free overall and despite a few technological glitches it was an example to the world especially developing countries of how peaceful an election ought to be.
We in the Black Community UK are accustomed to less glamorous elections in the UK as we watched in amazement of the Black President as he took to the stage in Chicago against the backdrop of Stevie Wonders signature hit- Sigh Sealed and Deliver- doused in a shower of glitzy confetti. Britain did not miss out on the election party CNN hosted a party at Mayfair in the City of London attended by the political well-heeled where guests were offered a choice of Obama and Romney badges. Judging from the feedback supporters of Romney left the party early with disappointment etched on their faces.
The republicans had their own election bash in an upscale community in Clerkenwell although the event organiser Camilla Wright, initally she wanted a mixed audience only Republican supporters could afford the drinks. Patrons at the event were updated at the event by Tweets from noted Broadcaster Richard Bacon who skiped live from Florida with regular updates. I listened to him on BBC Radio five he had two Republican guests who he got under their skins regularly with his edgy, comical but cynical criticism of the Republican Right. The working poor like me had to alternate between Aljazeera, CNN, BBC, the internet and the Radio5. In between, I had several cups of teas to stave off the night sleep but it was well worth it.
Black British Citizens looked on with a sense of pride begrudgingly as the idea of a Black Prime Minister for us is a pipe dream as we are still at the stage of tackling racism in football leagues. A pre-election poll gauging the choice of who was the British choice of candidate in the US Elections showed that 90% of British people were broadly in favour of an Obama victory. I suppose, it’s good to have a black president as long as he is on the other side of the Atlantic. I can’t recall going to the home of a West Indian or African friend’s home without seeing a photograph of Barrack Obama and his family hanging proudly from their Communal Hall. It’s almost as if Obama is our President by an act of rebellion. But while we goat in his victory we are politically aware that the task ahead for him in the next four years will be a cat herding exercise.
We know for example that vengeful republicans in congress are already itching to block any progressive legislation that the democrats may want to push through congress. The challenge for Obama is to forge a working relationship with the Republicans to avoid an economic gridlock- is almost like asking your ex-wife to cover the expenses of your new marriage to a after a nasty divorce. Obama during his victory speech pitched the need for consensus and agreed to a post-election meeting with Mitt Romney but difficult sweet heart deals will have to be made.
As stated whichever party in government usually don’t affect the relationship between the US and The UK and the historic ties are deep but Europe is in economic decline and the relationship between themselves and the US is currently uneven. After the second Wold Western Europe and The American government clever shared the Boards of the major global financial institutions such as the World Bank, The IMF and NATO among themselves creating cementing an economic and Political hegemony over the planet. However as we speak Europe is in decline and Germany single headedly is trying to keep the European currency from collapsing. It is a long held whisper among leaders of Europe that while the US has used its relationship with Europe to leverage its vast Empire experience to quell hotspots globally. Now that the European Union is in trouble economically the US under Obamas leadership has gone silent.
Further afield Chinas appetite for oil and raw material to fuel its growing.Its new found expansionist global capitalist ambition funded by the “Walmartisation” of its economy and clever currency manipulation has US on the economic back foot. Chinas unfair trade advantage became an election football during the election campaign. A fourth term Obama will have to mend fence with the newly elected young Chinese Leaders who will be elected by the congress of the Chinese Communist party. America enjoys an awkward economic relationship with America as its surplus is invested US domestic debt while the president will be expected to reduce the trade deficit caused by American huge appetite for Chinese manufactured goods.
After the dust of the election settles it is widely expected that Hilary Clinton will demit the Foreign affairs portfolio leaving lots of unfinished business. Whoever takes over will have the arduous task of managing the backlash of the Arab Spring and taking the finger off Israel’s trigger that has a nuclear ambitious Iran in its sight.
An incoming Secretary of State will be faced with the dilemma of using the hawk or dove approach in those delicate negotiations in to avert a war that will loom in the backdrop of those diplomatic talks. Featuring prominently on Obamas in-tray will be Syria’s Civil was and how to get the stubborn President Assad to take a hike of face the wrath of the International criminal court of which the US is not a Signature to. Africa had high expectation of Obama in his first term that was by and large unmet no wonder the content leaders are “coseying” up to China. Africa is shedding its image as the begging bowl of the word and is buying into the idea of aid for trade. However, Africa still has a corruption problem regardless of green economic shoots emerging from countries such as Nigeria and Ghana it is expected that they will become more independent and lead the way by a good example. In his second term Obama has the difficult task of distancing himself from the unhealthy relationship with the Egyptian army and to seek out Boka Harem in Nigeria the new terrorists on the block with a reputation to match Al-Qaida.
The global south is no longer the political fiefdom of the US as countries like Venezuela and Brazil are getting wealthy and is no longer beholden to US economic policy. The re-election of President Hugo Chavez who is still friendly with the Castro’s much to the annoyance of the US. Closer to home the US backed war on Drugs in Mexico is unwinnable and is raking up body bags by the thousands. Will Obama be brave enough to boy into a liberal drug policy by decriminalising drugs and breaking the power of drug lords in and outside of the us, The only persons that have benefitted from the war on drugs is the Us gun Lobby who sell arms to both the government’s and the vicious drug lords.
Be that as It May President Obama has one thing on his side he is a personable leader and a master communicator as he negotiate his way through his second term Black Britain and the liberal left wishes him well as he spawns the many problems of the US on a global and domestic scale. We recognise from across the Atlantic that the biggest problem that he has to negotiate is to remove the obstacle of big moneyed special interest for between himself, his decision making process and the people that he serves. He may well have to cut sweetheart deals with the Republicans in the US congress but we hope that in making those deals the 99% is not sold down the road as it was they who gave him the mandate to serve a further four years as commander in chief. We wish you a safe and progressive tour of duty Mr President.
Donovan Reynolds is a Blogger and Independent Writer. He is a British based Social Worker and Human rights Activist. He has an interest in Politics, Culture, Human Rights and International Development issues. Readers of this blog may add their comments or critique at the space provided on this blog .Or alternatively they maye-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org/ or dannygerm@twitter