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Inside Politics – Understanding Obama’s Victory

President Obama, David Axelrod and David PlouffeLike many Antiguans and Barbudans, I slept very little Tuesday night as I found myself glued to the television set listening and watching as the various data about the elections were reported, analysed and discussed.

I, too, was rooting for an Obama victory. Most significant for me is that a man of colour was not only president of the most powerful nation on earth, but also despite the odds and the massive challenges, he won a second term. I was fearful that a single term presidency for Obama would have meant that all the naysayers – the Karl Roves, the Donald Trumps, the Bill O’Reillys – would have been right. They would have been able to dictate the narrative, not just for today, but for many years to come: “We gave the black man an opportunity, and he messed it up; we cannot trust another (black man) again!” It was already scripted!



Unfortunately for the far-right zealots in the Republican party, they did not have on their team, David Axelrod and David Plouffe, who arguably have been two of the best political strategists in American politics in the last 25 years, maybe even longer. When George W Bush won the second election despite all his negatives, I thought Karl Rove was a political strategist par excellence - that he was unequalled in modern American politics. I was wrong!

Both Axelrod and Plouffe have outwitted, out-planned, out-mobilised and out-maneuvered even the well-financed and well-connected machine that Karl Rove assembled. Barack Obama was re-elected handsomely, if one looks at the final Electoral College vote count; and he also won the popular vote, although by a narrower margin. Together they put together a broad coalition that included Afro-Americans, women, gays, Latinos, Asian Americans and enough white votes to secure his victory. Obama and his team preached inclusion rather than exclusion. It paid huge dividends.

The demographic in the United States is changing and changing fast. Whites’ share of the voting population is declining as non-whites’ share, particularly Latinos, is increasing rapidly. Fifty thousand Latinos become eligible to vote each month in the U.S.

Obama has always had a problem with white males, and there’s a reason for that. White males in the US, particularly the older ones, have a deep sense of entitlement. That’s why people like Rove et al have had such difficulty accepting Obama as President. I remember clearly during last year’s Super Bowl game, Obama consented to do an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. During the interview, O’Reilly leaned across to the President in a manner that was noticeably disrespectful. In all my years of following American politics, I have never seen a reporter do that to another President.

Obama won despite the underlying racial campaign waged by his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Many times during the campaign Romney described Obama as ‘not one of us’, he is ‘un-American’, he doesn’t understand ‘our American values’. This was going on while Donald Trump was mouthing his nonsense of a claim that Obama was not born in the U.S.

Now having said all of that; what does Obama’s victory mean for us in the Caribbean and in particular, Antigua & Barbuda? Beyond the symbolism of a black man in the White House, the hope is that his re-election will have some benefits for us in the Caribbean.

Truth be told, the Caribbean benefits more under Republican administrations than when the Democrats are in the White House. The last major developmental assistance programme undertaken by an American Administration was the Caribbean Basin Initiative launched by President Ronald Reagan. That programme included assistance to improve trade between the region and the U.S.

Many people in the Caribbean seem to forget that it was under President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, that the death-knell for the banana industry in the OECS was sounded. Under pressure from the major American banana producers who owned large plantations in Latin America (eg Dole and Chiquita), the Clinton-appointed Trade Representative Mickey Kantor pressured the UK and Europe to remove the special subsidy for bananas produced by the OECS. This was a blow from which the industry has never recovered.

As a member of the U.S Senate, Barack Obama co-sponsored a bill that sought to restrict American companies and individuals from banking their money in offshore accounts. This is one of the developments that led to the decline of the offshore banking sector in Antigua & Barbuda and the loss of many jobs. Despite direct pleas from Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, there has not been any concrete movement to reach an amicable solution to the long-running dispute between Antigua & Barbuda and the US over the WTO running in favour of this Caribbean nation.



On the issue of immigration: Despite his call for immigration reform, it has been suggested that deportation was higher during Obama’s first term than under the preceding Bush Presidency. The question is: will these deportations continue?

The most significant benefit for Antigua & Barbuda will come from an improvement in the US economy. The economy is already showing signs of recovery. If that continues at an accelerated rate, then more Americans will travel and Antigua & Barbuda may benefit from that increased travel.
Obama will be too focused on the myriad of problems confronting him in the US - and his need to secure his legacy - for there to be any expectation that the Caribbean will feature prominently in the issues he considers vitally important. Except for the region’s continued role in the US fight against drug trafficking and ‘gifts’ such as speedboats, I believe the Caribbean will have to fend for itself in the foreseeable future.

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Everton Barnes

#4 Celia Joseph » 2013-02-18 10:46

Sick and tired of people who love handouts. That is why some of wanted Barack to win? It makes us look as opportunists. We are not in a disastrous situation,we need to clean our country then things will get better.
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Celia Joseph

ps...the PINK ARM BAND

#3 Jumbee Picknee » 2012-11-11 11:37

THE PINK ARM BAND, SO SYMBOLICALLY DEPICTED IN THE CAPTION, WHICH MAKES HIM LOOK SO, SOOO, SO KEWL(cool, kool) with the young & hip generation IS A CARIBBEAN THING FROM THE 1960's, WHEN AS KIDS, WE WOULD GET AN AS$ WHOPPING FOR WEARING IT, AS WE SYMBOLIZED "Power to the People."
What I have to say to our youths, keep the positive faith and love in you, in time, your vision will come true...Jah guide in One Love, One Aim, One Destiny
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Jumbee Picknee

the Coalition...II

#2 Jumbee Picknee » 2012-11-11 08:44

The Caribbean issue has to be view and analyzed from various angles. Broken down, the Virgin Islands, the Dutch Antilles, the "Individually big" Nations such as Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, the "collectively Small Nations o.e, the OECS, Cuba and Haiti as Lone Wolf's.
The Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico got theirs, the Dutch got theirs along with the Caymans/Bahamas. The individually big Nations still believe they have a better chance going at it solo. The old psychological wedge.
The OECS which concerns many of us, have to approach the USA Congress from within America. Strong lobbying groups with proper agendas are a must. The talking that We do on the street's of America, One love, One People must be conceptualized on paper, in the Community's, inLocal to National Government's while at the same time forging cohesive bonds with the African and African American coalition's.
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Jumbee Picknee

the Coalition

#1 Jumbee Picknee » 2012-11-11 08:11

This Coalition which gave the Democrats the White House & retention of the Senate is Rev. Jessie Jackson's PUSH - Rainbow Coalition from his 1980's bid for the White House. President Obama's team simply tweaked to match the present political situation in America.
Many Republicans did not vote because Mitt was not their choice. On the other hand, those group's which voted for the Democrats have their own agenda. The homosexuals want to leave the closet door open and is using the Black Civil Rights blueprint as a doorstop. The Hispanics whose majority could care less about the Black agenda wants economic power and is using mass numbers as their weapon of choice, and rightly so, since, it's a numbers game.
The Black's, take several deep breaths, feel the chakras, they're still in limbo, and that's expected when the psychological wedges are still plaguing them. They have all the pieces to the puzzle, they're just not putting them in the right places to make total sense. They have economic power the most important weapon in Community building but it's used to build other's rather than their own.
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Jumbee Picknee

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Everton Barnes


 

 

 

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