United States President Barack Hussein Obama’s The Audacity of Hope has overnight become The Audacity of Hopelessness. At least, this is the opinion of his many detractors, namely the irascible Republicans and Tea Party affiliates, in addition to extreme rightists, disenchanted Independent and blacks, plus outrightly racist Anglo-Saxons who were never comfortable with the idea of a black man being in the White House.In November 2008 Senator Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. And during his subsequent stroll from the Capitol in Washington DC in January 2009 I recall saying to myself here goes “the man of the moment” like Jesus Christ riding on the Democratic Party’s proverbial donkey on his way to Jerusalem where he may well be betrayed, accused, tried and condemned to a swift political death.
Politics is an ungrateful profession. Here are some of the descriptions that were made about the first Black man to become president of the world’s most powerful and influential country (cannot say it is the richest anymore): “The most exciting politician of the day” – Independent; “In our low-down, dispiriting era, Obama’s talent for proposing humane, sensible solutions with uplifting, elegant prose does fill one with hope.” – Washington Post; “The Audacity of Hope offers readers on this side of the Atlantic a window not just into the mind of one of America’s most exciting politicians, but into the political landscape of post-Bush era…like Bill Clinton, he has the knack of weaving together the personal and the anecdotal with the political and the conceptual, so that each point seems both persuasive and commonsensical.” – Guardian
Euphoria has turned to hysteria; love has turned to hate; admiration has turned to vilification; dreams have become nightmares and now the Pharisees and Sadducees, the High Priests and Scribes are shouting, “Crucify him, crucify him!” And whom do they want? Sarah Palin! Now if this scenario does not suggest that many Americans have lost their bearings, what could convince any sane person otherwise?
I am not for one moment saying that Obama has not fouled up in his presidency. There are times when I have quietly expressed anger at some of his decisions, actions and pronouncements, but does this make him into a Communist or Socialist, a Hitler, a Muslim sympathiser and worst of all an illegitimate president by virtue of the propaganda that he is not a born American? Many terrible things have been said of American presidents, but I am yet to be convinced that Obama has not been the most denigrated of them all. I am further convinced that he has suffered this opprobrium even from members of his own party because of his having had a Kenyan father.
Alas, poor Obama. In a bid to be all things to all men, he has failed most miserably and so he has ended up angering just about every spectrum of the American political kaleidoscope – Conservatives, Liberals, Independents, women, the Anglo-Saxon males, youths, seniors, Wall Street, the unemployed, etc. Will he ever be able to get it right? Not as long as he is deemed to be on the left, some say. Today, millions of Americans will go to the polls to vote in the Midterm elections. The latest CNN poll shows the GOP (Grand Old Party) 10 points ahead of the Democrats. It would appear that after today there will be a big, rambunctious elephant charging around in the Oval Office.
The Republicans have skilfully used fear as their major weapon against the Obama administration. Already known as “the party of no”, they have set out to make it impossible for Obama to return to the presidency in 2012, if he dares. But history may well be on Obama’s side – a history that has shown that incumbent presidents who fare badly in mid-term elections tend to be comeback kids. Ronald Reagan did it and so did Bill Clinton. Within the next two years, his fortunes can turn around, especially if the White House can build consensus with the Republicans on major issues without veering too much from his stated visions; defang Al-Qaeda, grow the economy and create jobs, reduce the national debt, empower the minorities (blacks, Hispanics in particular), deal effectively with the contentious immigration issue, revisit the health-care bill, tackle with compassion and common sense gay and abortion rights, among the many other matters that beset that great nation. A tall order, indeed, but Obama must be pragmatic and come up with an agenda and timetable that are doable within the years he has left in his presidency. Lest he forget, “It’s the economy, stupid!”
The spectre of China superseding the USA as the number one world power is most frightening and demoralising to the Americans. It is this fear that has driven many individuals into the lap of the Republicans who, despite today’s predicted landslide victory, are not seen by the majority of voters as much better than the Democrats. That is why the Tea Party has emerged in essence as a third party and has attached itself parasitically to the GOP – a marriage that may well end up in a bitter divorce.
I still believe in Obama and I have this gut feeling that he will rebound. After all, if there is any logical historicity to his presidency, then the crucifixion should be followed by the resurrection. His must not be a dream deferred but a dream realised.
By Lloyd B Smith