Monday, November 5, 2012
Shehu Sani Friday, 02 November 2012 - Nigeria Tribune Online
THE forthcoming election in the United States of America, had taken much of the global airwaves, and daily assuming a media glitz of dizzying dimension.
In the next few days, Americans would be going to the poll again; to vote a president that will preside over their nation for the next four years.
In the presentscenario, the main campaign and contention had been between the incumbent President Barrack Obama (A Democrat) and Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, with occasional mentioning of the independent candidate. Thus, the campaigns and contest between them, have been very keen, rancorous and exciting. Billions of dollars have been spent on campaign advertisements in the media, with most American airways flooded and saturated with market-tested slogans and cliché, all in a bid to compete for and sway to their platforms and conviction, the attention of decided and undecided voters in America.
The forthcoming elections mirrored the keenly contested first term election of President Obama. On February 10, 2007, Obama had announced his candidacy for president of the United States in front of the old state capital building in Springfield, Illinois, with strong emphasis on increasing energy independence and providing universal health care, in a campaign that projected themes of “hope” and “change”.
Although a large number of candidates entered the Democratic Party presidential primaries, the field was, however, narrowed for a duel between Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (the present Secretary of State). After early contest, with the race remaining close, throughout the primary process, but with Obama gaining a steady lead in pledged delegates, due to better long range planning, superior funding, dominant organising in state caucus and better exploitation of delegates’ allocation rules, on June 7, 2008, Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama.
After rigorous campaign, Obama later won the presidency with 365 electorate’s votes to 173 recorded by McCain. Obama also won 52.9 per cent of the popular votes to McCain 45.7 per cent. After the victory, Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President and Joe Biden as Vice President, on January 20, 2009.
With the renewed tempo of campaign between Obama and Romney, the big question is, will Obama be able to give Romney the “McCain treatment”?
Unfolding responses and perceptions of the American electorate, are signaling an affirmation, even as both of them tried to resell the critical issues that are dear to the electorate to extract their votes.
The critical issues along with the strategic differences between Obama’s vision and that of Romney’s, and the accomplishment of the incumbent in office, will equally make a difference as to the direction which the voters’ intent will sway to.
The critical issues to the ever fastidious American voters include: economy, family values, defence, security, race-relation, job creation, tax and foreign affairs vis-à-vis relationship with Africa, China, Israel, war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria.
The differences between the policies, temperament will play a key role, and certainly the two candidates differ in views of the world.
Obama remains modest and transparent in tax agenda over Romney. Obama’s vision is compelling, while Romney latched on an unarticulated vision. Romney personae and images are associated with the war mongering of George Bush, that will take American foreign policy back decades to the cold war era. Obama is seen and perceived to be hair-touch sensitive enough to appreciate hurricanes and devastating oil spillages. Obama is equally perceived and correctly so, as an experienced Commander-in-Chief that may not be quickly replaced for an inexperienced one in view of the global security instability.
The Americans will certainly prefer a tested and trusted hand at this very trying period of global war against terrorism.
No doubt, the Obama’s administration, had done more for Americans (including the African-Americans) to sustain their confidence in a reassuring votes. It has equally impacted on the rest of the world and African, to justify the sympathy of the minority in Africa in his leadership and his re-election drive.
His administration created jobs and empowerment. In August 2012, the unemployment rate for black came down to 14.1 per cent from a high 16.7 per cent. It was in August 2011, when he signed new initiatives to improve educational outcome for African Americans—to improve the educational outcomes of Africa – Americans, increase their college completion rate, employment rates and the number of African–American teachers—which will eventually lead to more productive careers, improved economic mobility and security, and greater social well being for all Americans.
Aside from the above, Obama’s key accomplishment in the last four years, will no doubt, stand him in good stead and give him a strategic edge over Romney. Some of the accomplishments are outlined below:
He passed health care reform. After five president over a century, failed to create universal health insurance, Obama signed the Affordable Care Act 2010, to cover 32 million uninsured American, beginning in 2014. He signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession, since the Great Depression, to create employments.
He also increased supports for veterans, executed multi-pronged strategy of positively engaging China, while reasserting the United States leadership in the region by increasing American military presence, and crafting new commercial, diplomatic and military alliance with neighbouring countries, made uncomfortable by recent china’s behaviour.
Other major achievements recorded by the Obama administration include, a $4.35 billion programme of competitive grant given to encourage and reward states for education reform. He coordinated international response to financial crisis (recession in 2009 and 2010) by helping to secure from G-20 nations more than $500 billion for the IMF, to provide lines of credit and other support to emerging market countries, which kept them liquid and avoided crises with their currency. It also passed mini-stimuli, improved Americans’ image abroad, reversed former President George Bush’s torture policies, recapitalised banks, turned around U.S auto industry and passed Wall Street Reform.
With this, no doubt, Obama is certain to secure a marginal victory. Equally, his impressive campaign outreach will certainly blunt negative projections of the republicans against his administration, just as the presence of high profile Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, will prove strategic and shore up his votes.
President Obama’s impact is not limited to America, but global, especially as it relates to his administration’s foreign policy.
In his foreign policy, he tried to reach out to the rest of the world. He attempted and indeed reached out to Arab leaders by granting his first interview to an Arab Cable TV Nation—Al Arabiya, in the bid to promote peace in the Middle East.
In March 2010, Obama took a public stance against plans by the government of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to continue with the building of Jewish housing project in predominant Arab neighbours of East Jerusalem. During the same period, he reached an agreement with the administration of Russian President Dmitry Medvadev to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with a new pact reducing the number of long range nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both countries by about one-third.
The New START treaty was signed by Obama and Medvadev, in April 2010, and was ratified by the US Senate in December 2010. This initiative will count in favour of Obama’s re-election.
African influence will also count strategic, in swaying the electorate towards Obama’s vision for America’s reminiscence. Africa had responded with joy when Obama was elected. There was dancing on the streets of Liberia, jubilation on the streets of Nigeria and Kenya, and declared his inauguration a public holiday. He thus, promised to strengthen democracy and encourage growth, through trade and investment, irrespective of the challenges faced by Africa.
Hitherto, Africans had been inundated with series of challenges that include brain drain, the Americans’ “war on terror” (especially during the President Bush’s era), lacklustre leadership, increasing conflicts and violence with attendant displacement of people, and the limited capacity of Africans to prevent conflict.
There are other challenges of sustained violation of human rights, the IMF and the World Bank, and the violence of corporate – led globalisation that subsumed Africa’s potential to the profiteering and manipulations of the multi-national corporations.