Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Archives filed under "obama"

Election 2012

Ray Drainville

I’m a political junkie, particularly for US politics, since that’s where I was born.

I’ve refrained from writing about the election this time around because, well, I was too buy reading about it, and chuckling over the hapless Mitt Romney, with all of his gaffes. His basic contempt for nearly half of the American public can’t be called a “gaffe”, however. It was too serious:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it… And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

This isn’t a mere “gaffe”: he believes these people are feckless, essentially to be considered throwaways. I would encourage anyone who’s voting in this election to not forget those words.

So Mittens chooses Paul Ryan as his running mate, one of the House Republicans’ leaders for budget negotiations. Mysteriously to me, he had become known as a guy who knew his numbers. He was a Serious Politician.

So the Serious Politician sat down with Time for a photo-shoot about his awesome workout.

So Mittens has a plutocrat problem (his wife entered a horse in the Olympics for dressage, fer chrissakes!); Ryan doesn’t look so serious a guy any more; the Republican convention was a disaster, with someone who thinks he’s a tough guy because he played them in movies talking to an empty chair he called “Obama”.

Why the fuck is this election even close? Obama got rid of Bin Laden, the stock market is back to 2007 levels, and those plutocrats are doing very well, thankyouverymuch (not that you’d hear them admit it). Well, there’s Obama’s miserable first debate, which wiped out six months’ worth of gains against a hapless opponent. And, while he got a lot of his legislative agenda through Congress, he’s been stopped short since the Republicans took the House in 2010. Mark my words, though: Obama will be remembered as one of the most effective presidents the US has ever seen, based upon those two years alone. The country’s not fully recovered from the Great Recession yet. But who honestly thought it would have, four years on?

I just don’t get it: Romney is proposing nothing less than a re-hashed Bush-Cheney presidency. Mmm. That didn’t work out so well before. But since it was only four years ago you’d think people would remember that.

Republican Talking Point

Ray Drainville

So Obama makes a speech at the University of Cairo (an excellent speech, in fact). You can always control what you say, but you can’t control who attends to your saying it:

Palestinian militants from the Popular Resistance Committee watch the televised speech of US President Barack Obama in Gaza City, Thursday, June 4, 2009.

Click on that link. You’ll not be sorry.

Reflections on the 2008 Election from an Interested Participant

Ray Drainville

Barack Obama has decisively won the Presidency of the United States. The first African-American President, he has already ensured himself a prime place in history. More than it ever has before, the face of the Presidency will now look like the faces you see around my native land.

The Historical Importance of Turnout

Obama won with 52% of the vote (possibly more as North Carolina & Missouri haven’t been declared yet). It was the highest turnout of the electorate since 1920. In some states, like Colorado, 90% of the electorate voted.

It’s hard to overstress how incredible this is. I have grown up listening to people impotently low the apathy in US elections, where common turnout figures have hovered just above the 50% mark for decades. And I think that young people & African-Americans will feel empowered by this election, one they helped carry so convincingly. I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of them, not by a long shot.

The Scope of Obama’s Victory

The scope of Obama’s victory must be understood. He carried Democrats into the majority in states where they haven’t won over 40 years, like Indiana. Obama received a thumping majority of votes for the Electoral College & the margin of his popular vote victory was greater than that of Reagan’s in 1980. That word you’re looking for to describe this election? It’s “Reaganesque”.

And look for an upset in Georgia: McCain is 250,000 votes ahead there currently, but the 600,000 early voting ballots—which have broken strongly for Obama nation-wide—haven’t been counted yet. Johnson’s “loss of the South for a generation” after signing the Civil Rights Act may now be ending.

Obama pursued a 50-state strategy: he created an efficient nation-wide infrastructure that, ironically, was created because of the extended primary race against Hilary Clinton. The old approach enraged me for years: Democrats have only run credible challenges in “swing states”, cobbling together a victory on the slimmest of margins, leaving traditional red states virtually uncontested. Republicans could then pour money into the swing states & thus carry away the Presidency. It’s been a horribly dreary phenomenon for a long time now. That approach is now well and truly broken. And I am glad to see the end of it.


What really thrills me is that Obama doesn’t owe anyone this election: no special interests funnelling money into his campaign to force a change in his policies; no early Democratic endorsements that would have forced the failed beliefs of a previous generation of Democrats onto his Presidency; no shadow of Clinton breathing down his back. Obama harnessed the grassroots and the Internet & won with the support of millions of people who, like me, gave what time & money they could. It’s a clean slate. Politically, he has remade the Democratic Party entirely in his own image—nothing has happened on this scale since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And as for policy, he can pursue health care reform, energy independence, fair taxation, national security & international diplomacy with an untethered hand. This isn’t just a sea-change: it’s a colossal seismic shift.

How Much of a Rebuke to Republicanism?

This is the question I keep asking myself. Whilst watching MSNBC last night, the anchors frequently called it a rejection of the Bush years & the New York Times has followed suit.

There’s no doubt of that. But the scale of Obama’s victory implies it’s more than a rebuke to that husk of a man still occupying the White House. Consistently throughout the campaign, Obama emphasised how the less well-off were sacrificed to the interests of the rich. To me, his victory feels like a pendulum swinging back against the Reagan years. And in a display of the power of editorial brevity, John Gruber of Daring Fireball makes a convincing case that the election swings back all the way to 1972.

Time will tell which of us, if any, is correct. But today, exhausted as I am, I feel as if 30 years’ worth of political horror has been lifted from me.