Don’t get us wrong, readers! If Donald Trump can be an effective or even great president, we’re all for him! The above videos – snap shots of Trump being on-message, funny and real – are glimmers of hope. After watching these videos and others, you realize there is something quite endearing – dare I say loveable?! – about the Donald!: #1 – He is authentic. Totally himself … and that is GREAT. It’s a lot of fun, kinda scary, ultimately mesmerizing. Trump doesn’t hold back or disengage or quit working at 6:30 p.m. every night to spend time with his family like President Obama did. Nope. Trump – with wife Melania MIA in another state – is ON 24/7. Like a great, bizarre ’round the clock reality TV show! And we’re all addicted to watching it! Last night I began watching an old President Obama video and shut it off. Boring!!! I tuned into Trump – and had fun. So what if we are all going to be incinerated?!!! Trump is one hell of a roller coaster ride! He is combative but takes his lumps, too – for his gaffes, hissy fits, open bathrobe and fumbling for light switches in a lights-out White House.
Donald Trump seems to crave unending adoration, but his emotional neediness often manifests itself as a kind of goofy friendliness… . President Obama was aloof. Trump is anything but. He’s a hugger, hand-holder, hand-shaker, glad-hander … a people person. Nutty. But gregarious. I like that. He could be Italian-American – a Rat Pack ba da boom kinda prez! Trump’s out-sized personality is why he has connected with so many – millions of – Americans. They love him! He’s like lots of great U.S. presidents/politicians – loves to, lives to swaddle himself in the hoi polloi and upper classes and everyone in between: FDR, LBJ, Teddy Roosevelt. You can tell Trump LOVES being president! Which is why he filed his papers for re-election immediately after Inauguration Day!!!
Trump’s manic energy encompasses all – sucks you in. He has bonded with the forgotten Americans: white working class regular folks who, on a number of fronts, most important, the economic one, have suffered for many many years. He says he will change their – our – lives. Tonic to the people!
Trump, for me, feels especially like Lyndon B. Johnson – a natural, gifted, LOVE ME NOW-PLEASE! kind of politician. Trump can’t mask his insecurity and he can’t get enough of Americans and our problems, feelings, food etc. The voters, miners, teachers, Congress – he’ll spread the Donald all over the place, like the special sauce on a Big Mac.
And it feels kinda nice. Fucked up. But nice.
Raise the federal minimum wage, Donald! Support our unions! Create a robust AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE REBUILDING federal program that puts millions of regular guys and gals back to work at GOOD PAYING JOBS rebuilding America’s highways, bridges, airports, etc! Quit stomping on the Constitution, and you just may make it, after all!🇺🇸🍦🍟🍔🍕
editor’s note: In honor of Black History Month, we re-post one of Parlee’s Black History Month ICT columns.
But first, here’s MLK Jr:
… and President Obama, a leader we miss so intensely these days it hurts!! A mountain of a man (and orator) compared to the nefarious sack of Trump shit who usurped the Oval Office in November 2016 (my heart is broken!💔)
– R. Tirella
By Parlee Jones
There has been a lot of discussion lately as to the relevance of Black History Month. Is it still needed? Why should there be a Black History Month. For me, I feel that it is still relevant. Not only for Black people, but for all people. We celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King at the library this past January. When I ordered the cake, the woman who took my order, did not know who Dr. King was. Hmm. Yes, she was from another country. Welcome. Yes, she was enjoying the freedoms that were won through the Civil Rights movement. No, she didn’t know who he was. There are a lot of people enjoying the freedoms that were wrought from the Civil Rights movement who don’t know the history.
What hurts more is the fact that our young Black people don’t know who Fred Hampton, Medgar Evers or Emmet Till were. Yes, I concede that there have been improvements in regards to acknowledging the accomplishments of Blacks here in America, but there is still a lot of denial, resentment and straight out disdain for Americans of a darker hue. Just the blatant disrespect shown towards our President and the First Lady shows that America still has issues with Black people in power positions.
Knowledge of self to better yourself! Every people has a history. And, every people should know some of that history.
Black History Month had its origins in 1915 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (“ASALH”). Through this organization Dr. Woodson initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. In 1976 this commemoration of Black history in the United States was expanded by ASALH to Black History Month, also known as African American History Month. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Fred Hampton (August 30, 1948 – December 4, 1969) was an African-American activist and deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP). He was killed in his apartment during a raid by a tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO), in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hampton’s death was chronicled in the 1971 documentary film The Murder of Fred Hampton, as well as an episode of the critically acclaimed documentary series Eyes on the Prize. He was shot twice in the head at close range.
Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. He became active in the civil rights movement after returning from overseas service in World War II and completing secondary education; he became a field secretary for the NAACP. Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council. As a veteran, Evers was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His murder and the resulting trials inspired civil rights protests, as well as numerous works of art, music, and film.
Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta region when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store. Several nights later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam, arrived at Till’s great-uncle’s house where they took Till, transported him to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later. Till was returned to Chicago and his mother, who had raised him mostly by herself, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1950’s America, the equality of man envisioned by the Declaration of Independence was far from a reality. People of color — blacks, Hispanics, Asians — were discriminated against in many ways, both overt and covert. The 1950’s were a turbulent time in America, when racial barriers began to come down due to Supreme Court decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education; and due to an increase in the activism of blacks, fighting for equal rights.
Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands.
Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers. The assembled masses marched down the Washington Mall from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, heard songs from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and heard speeches by actor Charlton Heston, NAACP president Roy Wilkins, and future U.S. Representative from Georgia John Lewis.
King’s appearance was the last of the event; the closing speech was carried live on major television networks. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King evoked the name of Lincoln in his “I Have a Dream” speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Towards the end of his life, MLK Jr. was passionate about economic equality – for everyone. Poverty – as well as peace – were the two issues he was now speaking about. Then he was gunned down … . Here he is on economic equality:
“Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively…the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada.
“Did you know that? That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it. We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”
Toward the end of the speech, King refers to threats against his life and uses language that seems to foreshadow his impending death:
“And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t really matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.
“So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything.
“I’m not fearing any man.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Of course, people say they are tired of hearing these stories, but, until there is equality for all, these stories will need to be told! In the spirit of Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Nat Turner and all our ancestors who survived middle passage and helped to build this country, I salute you and will keep your memories alive ~ not only in the month of February, but 365 days a year!
The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World
By Derek Chollet, (2016, Perseus Books, 262 Pages)
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
Journalism has often been called the first draft of history. With that in mind, former Obama administration official Derek Chollet has evaluated President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Chollett covers an enormous number of issues, personalities, and events in a short 262 pages, a concisely written book and that will be a valuable resource for future historians.
Unexpected foreign events often arise during a Presidency. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, drawing the U.S. into World War II, and changing the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Soviet Union installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, leading to the missile crisis and John F. Kennedy’s finest hour. 9/11 pushed George W. Bush into being a different President than the one he campaigned as. While Bush’s unexpected event was in his first year in office, two of Obama’s problems came late in his second term: the catastrophic insurgency of ISIS, and the ominous resurgence of Putin’s Russia.
Barack Obama inherited an America facing the abyss. As Wikipedia put it: “The bursting of the US housing bubble, which peaked at the end of 2006, caused the values of securities tied to US real estate pricing to plummet, damaging financial institutions globally. The financial crisis was triggered by a complex interplay of policies that encouraged home ownership, providing easier access to loans for subprime borrowers, overvaluation of bundled subprime mortgages based on the theory that housing prices would continue to escalate, questionable trading practices on behalf of both buyers and sellers, compensation structures that prioritize short-term deal flow over long-term value creation, and a lack of adequate capital holdings from banks and insurance companies to back the financial commitments they were making.”
America hovered on the edge of another Great Depression:
• By January 2009 the economy was shedding 800,000 jobs a month.
• American families were losing 100,000 homes a week as home values plummeted and entire neighborhoods, particularly in the inner cities, were devastated.
• The banking system seemed ready to implode, with major financial institutions like the Lehman brothers going bankrupt. Hard core conservatives urged the U.S. government to stay out.
• The automotive industry ran out of money. Cash burn was so bad that General Motors told the White House it had on hand only two weeks of money left to operate. The potential loss of jobs from this one problem alone could be counted in the millions.
Mitt Romney wrote a tome in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”, saying the U.S. should not save the auto industry. That the “supply chain” – the subcontractors and factories manufacturing components for the auto industry, located mainly in the “Rust Belt” states that voted in 2016 for Donald Trump – would die and could not be revived, did not worry Romney.
The Long Game
It should be borne in mind that these were just the domestic issues Obama faced. It says nothing about the foreign affairs calamities facing the U.S., including ongoing wars tying up 175,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It is hard to think of a president who entered office facing more challenges of historic magnitude,” commented Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Obama set out to play the “Long Game.”
“The defining element of Obama’s grand strategy is that it reflects the totality of American interests – foreign and domestic – to project global leadership in an era of seemingly infinite demands and finite resources,” writes Chollet. “This is playing the ‘Long Game.’”
Chollet describes Obama as a political version of Warren Buffett, who became a billionaire by buying up companies with a strong market base but which were financially weak. When the economy got better, the values of these investments skyrocketed. Buffett made his billions by looking not at these companies’ value at the time he bought them, but what he expected these entities to be worth over time.
“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field – not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard,” observed Buffett.
Obama believed the U.S. overextended itself by pouring so much manpower, equipment, and money into Iraq, instead of hunting down Al-Qaeda and its leaders. Obama thought the U.S. should shift America’s focus from the Middle East to the Pacific Basin; rebalance America’s projection of power, putting as much emphasis on diplomacy and economic sanctions/assistance as Bush did on the use of military force; and reset America’s alliances with NATO and Russia.
To go into every topic Obama’s administration dealt with would fill up this entire newspaper. We’re going to look at some of Obama’s foreign policy successes, his failures, and draw some conclusions.
Historians are likely to regard the Iran nuclear treaty as a hallmark of Obama’s administration. When Bush left office, Iran was moving full speed ahead on its
nuclear program. Obama convinced the Russians, Chinese, British, and French to impose sanctions that devastated the Iranian economy. Since the July 2015 signing of the treaty, Iran has removed weapons grade uranium, reduced the number of centrifuges by two thirds, and removed the heavy water reactor at Arak and filled it with concrete. For the moment, Iran has been disarmed. That is no small achievement, and may be one a bellicose Trump could build upon.
In August 2013 Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons against opposition held territory, killing 1,400 civilians, including women and children. Obama had warned Assad in 2012 that doing this would be crossing a red line. The only nation willing to back the U.S. in using military force was France (derided as the seller of “freedom fries” during the Bush era). Britain’s parliament voted against participation, and the American people overwhelmingly opposed involvement in a third Middle East conflict. Congress refused to authorize military action by Obama. The Republican Congressional war dogs made macho denunciations of Assad, but wouldn’t vote to authorize U.S. military action against the Syrian tyrant.
Chollet cited other problems related to using military force to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons. There were 50 sites containing 1,300 pounds of chemical weapons, dispersed around Syria. Neutralizing these would require heavy air and naval attacks along with 75,000 ground troops. There was a danger Assad’s military would collapse under such an assault, and hundreds of tons of chemical weapons fall into the hands of ISIS/Al-Qaeda. After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that the matter could be resolved by Assad giving up his weapons, the crisis was resolved diplomatically.
Chollet writes: “Without a bomb being dropped, Syria admitted to having a massive chemical weapons program it had never before acknowledged, agreed to give it up, and submitted to a multinational coalition that removed the weapons and destroyed them in a way that had never been tried before.”
Obama lost face because he drew the red line and didn’t take military action against Syria. But he achieved the maximalist objective of disarming Syria. Reagan faced a similar situation when 250 Marines were massacred in Lebanon by terrorists in 1982. Instead of doubling down, Reagan prevented America from getting dragged into a quagmire by “redeploying” the surviving Marines to ships offshore. Both Presidents did what was best for their country, even if it meant a personal loss of face.
Bin Laden and the drones
Obama’s Presidency reached its pinnacle in May 2011 when Seal Team Six descended upon Osama bin Laden’s lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed the Al-Qaeda leader. Few Americans knew that Obama had played a key role in planning the mission. The plan originally call for the Seals to go in without helicopter backups. Obama insisted that backup helicopters be situated in reserve not far from Abbottabad. These proved crucial when one of the Seal helicopters crashed while landing.
Obama used the same strategic approach to get America out of Iraq and Afghanistan that Richard Nixon used to get the U.S. out of Vietnam: advance the air power while withdrawing the troops. Nixon used B-52s and laser guided ordinance to bomb North Vietnam into signing a peace treaty. Obama sent American drones on hundreds of missions to kill Al-Qaeda and associated terrorist leaders. Some criticized this because of the civilians killed in the drone strikes. However, by and large, it did disrupt Al-Qaeda’s ability to launch mass casualty attacks on the U.S. homeland.
The Russian Reset, Part I
With all the noise being generated over Trump and Vladimir Putin, Obama’s “reset” with Russia has been widely viewed as a failure. However, when the policy was first implemented in 2009, it did lead to some successes. This was due to the fact that Putin was not the Russian President; Dimitri Medvedev was, and he wanted to work with the United States. With Medvedev’s help, the U.S. organized the sanctions against Iran; agreed to destroy one third of Russia’s nuclear arsenal; supported setting up supply lines to Afghanistan that avoided a volatile Pakistan; and voted with the U.S. during the U.N. debate authorizing the use of military force against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Now, let’s look at some of shortcomings of Obama’s Presidency.
According to the mainstream media, upwards of 500,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war and millions have fled to Europe. Obama appears to have done what he could diplomatically to stop the carnage. But faced with the obduracy of Syrian President Assad, the lack of allies who supported intervening in Syria, the U.S. had no good choices. If it supported Assad, the U.S. would be siding with a blood thirsty dictator. If Obama opposed Assad, ISIS and Al Qaeda might take control of the country. His critics charged that he could have supported moderate Syrians earlier, but there was a problem with vetting these groups.
What Obama should have done is establish no fly zones in Syria where Syrians fleeing the conflict could be protected. This would also have stopped large masses of Syrians from fleeing to Europe.
When America troops left in 2011, Iraq by and large was peaceful. The emergence of ISIS could not have been foreseen by any American President. It was with a few thousand guerillas that ISIS attacked and conquered huge swaths of Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, with its million residents, stated Wikipedia, “the Iraqi army had 30,000 soldiers stationed in the city, facing a 1,500-member attacking force.” With such favorable odds, the ISIS force should have been smashed. Instead, the 30,000 Iraqi soldiers abandoned their U.S. equipment and fled.
Few were clairvoyant enough to anticipate the total ineffectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces, equipped with billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment. From a few thousand fighters, ISIS grew to an armed force of 30,000 men as wannabe Jihadists from Europe and the Middle East swelled their ranks. They were armed with the American weapons left behind by the fleeing Iraqi army.
In 2011 there was yet another U.S. intervention on “humanitarian” grounds in Libya that turned into a mission to overthrow Gaddafi. After Gaddafi was killed, Libya descended into anarchy as warring factions fought each other. The U.S. was prodded into action on Libya by its European allies; Obama should have insisted on a post-war NATO occupation force from these allies to assist Libyans in setting up a stable government.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposed intervening in Libya, saying: “Can I just finish the two wars we’re already in before you go looking for new ones?”
The Russian Reset, Part II
In 2012 Vladimir Putin took back his old job of Russian President. Putin’s animus against Hillary Clinton stems from this episode; Putin apparently believes that Clinton ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to clandestinely block his return to the Russian Presidency. In any event, Obama’s measures to persuade Putin to stay out of Syria and the Ukraine were unsuccessful, and this must be regarded as another Obama shortcoming.
History will give a much fuller judgment on Obama when the facts become available. Since Obama’s foreign policy was set up with the intention of yielding long term benefits, a historical perspective will be necessary to evaluate Obama. The failures he had, particularly in the Middle East, rose from his fervent desire to keep the U.S. out of another war.
Obama may well be remembered by historians for two things that didn’t happen on his watch. First, he kept the economy from imploding. The car industry was saved, the banking system made solvent, and a slow but painful process of economic revival took place. Second, he didn’t get sucked into another quagmire like Iraq. The 175,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have been reduced to 15,000. Yes, it wasn’t a perfect Presidency. But considering the near collapse of the economy in 2008, Obama did well in keeping America from falling into the abyss of a second Great Depression, and from being drawn into another grinding war. History is likely to view Barack Obama very kindly.
Now that we’ve learned President-elect Donald Trump worked with the Russians for FIVE years, that he used them to make a mockery of our democracy, that they used him to make a mockery of our democracy and deemed him highly “bribable,” our departing President Obama seems even more dignified, modest, sensitive, inspiring and visionary. When we see what’s down our American road, paved with Trumpian vulgarity, gold, sexual assault, KGB-leaders, excess, lies and – let’s be honest – utter disregard for each and every American (especially the working class that got him elected), Barack Obama looks like St. Barack!
President Obama, the world is surely, sorely, going to miss you when you step off the stage!
editor’s note: We’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.
U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern, a senior House Democrat and leading voice in Congress on U.S.-Russia relations – author of a bipartisan bill recently passed by Congress to sanction Russia for corruption and human rights abuses – released the following statement in support of the Obama Administration’s latest round of sanctions against Russia:
“I strongly support President Obama’s actions today to respond to Russia’s interference in our election. American democracy was attacked in 2016. This was a very serious act by a foreign government and deserves a very serious response. These sanctions are a strong step to hold accountable those individuals identified by U.S. intelligence agencies as responsible for meddling in our presidential election. But more action is needed.
“We need an independent and bipartisan commission to fully investigate the actions by all who played a role in interfering in this year’s election. Protecting our elections from foreign interference is vital to our national security and must be our first priority. Both Republicans and Democrats alike must put country first and work together to support a complete and thorough investigation to give the American people the answers they deserve and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
“President-elect Trump’s continued praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin during the campaign and in the face of overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered in our election should alarm all Americans. The incoming Trump administration must work with both parties in Congress to build on these new sanctions and ensure this attack on American democracy is answered strongly and swiftly. We must be united in standing up to Russia and protecting the integrity of our elections against all foreign influence.”
Rose says: Oh, baby, it’s Putin hat time! Pax, baby! It’s only faux fur – as fake as Putin’s professed love for Donald Trump, our soon to be Idiot in Chief!!
Donald Trump! Our next president!!!! Madness!!!! Think: North Korea, China, ISIS, Iran, our intrepid servicemen and women, African Americans, the working class, planet earth, refugees … Think: more war, more terror attacks, more extinct flora and fauna, more betrayals, more pain, more deaths. America’s in for one hell of a roller-coaster ride! Everything we hold close to our hearts – rights and mores we take for granted – Trump will stomp on! And that day-glo orange hair – every follicle a hair-spray-saturated punch line. FOUR YEARS OF TRUMP. GOD SAVE US.
Pulling out her ear piece during her performance at President Obama’s inauguration made her more drama queen than artist-caught-up-in-the-moment. Her recording of our national anthem was beautiful, but it was just that, a recording.
Little Kelly Clarkson’s performance of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” was REAL – totally in the moment. Despite the facts: It was cold out. Her audience: 700,000 people! (and all the folks at home watching on TV, computer or smart phone). She was singing for the President of the United States!
In the face of all that pressure, Kelly was perfect! She sang beautifully, with feeling and depth – but not over the top. Dressed in a basic plum coat and purple scarf, she looked like a cute kid from the Spencer DQ! She seemed humbled to be part of an American moment, American history. And when she got a big thank you from President Obama (tall and handsome) and a little kiss on the cheek from him, she got all flustered! Just like a star-struck kid/lady would!
Very real, very beautiful!
Click on link below Kelly’s photo to hear her performance at President Obama’s inauguration.
Barack Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia, appears on stage in Chicago, Illinois. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP
The improbable journey goes on. What Barack Obama always regarded as the unlikeliest of political odysseys will now be allowed to run its full measure. By a clearer margin than many of his supporters had dared hope, the people of the United States voted to let their 44th president finish what he had started.
As election night brought the familiar, intense focus on this or that county in Ohio or Florida, it was easy to lose sight of the scale of Obama’s achievement. Of course becoming America’s first black president four years ago was an unrepeatable feat, but winning four more years made history, too. Obama is only the fourth Democrat since 1900 to win two full terms in the White House. Only Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Bill Clinton have matched his achievement.
And he did it in the hardest of circumstances. The experts long believed that to win re-election with unemployment at or above 8% was to defy political gravity: no one had done it since 1940. Yet that was the jobless number Obama confronted from the day he took office until two months ago. His approval ratings had struggled to break 50%. He had been on the receiving end of a four-year assault from the American right – the alternative universe embodied by Fox News, which tore itself apart on air as pundit Karl Rove refused to accept the cold, hard facts set out by Fox’s own number-crunchers – which sought to “other” the US president, to paint him as Barack Hussein Obama, the Kenyan Marxist Muslim bent on destroying America. Despite all that he won and won convincingly, ahead in the popular vote and taking all but one of the nine key battleground states, with as-yet-undeclared Florida likely to be added to his tally – with no need of recounts and not a hanging chad in sight.
It was a monumental achievement, one the renewed president recognised with a magnificent speech. In Chicago before a crowd both relieved and delighted, he spoke with a force, clarity and determination that had scarcely been glimpsed in the 2012 campaign. The rhetoric was soaring – “for the United States of America the best is yet to come” – and moving but it was also rooted in the concrete. He set out the goals of his second term: “Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil.”
But he also spoke of a danger that had barely featured on the campaign trail, warning of “the destructive power of a warming planet”. For his supporters, including those frustrated by the timidity of much of his first term – and the lethargy of his appearance in the first TV debate – this was the Obama they had been waiting for.
It brought hope flickering back to life inside Democrats who wonder if, having made history, Obama might now defy it, reversing the usual order and achieving more in his second term than in his first. His healthcare reform, which would have been repealed by a President Romney, will now be implemented, which represents a legacy in itself. If he can somehow negotiate the looming fiscal cliff, bringing tax revenues and spending into balance, that too will endear him to posterity. …
Obama’s win matched by advances for progressive Democrats
The longer-term significance of the 2012 election is the growing strength and confidence of the Democratic party’s liberal wing
By Michael Cohen, The Guardian
Elizabeth Warren in Cambridge, Massachusetts: one of several new liberal Democratic senators. Photograph: Josh Reynolds/AP
Last night was a great one for the Democratic party. A president re-elected and a Senate majority expanded, even if the House remains in Republican hands.
But beyond the headlines, consider for a moment the underlying dynamics of this win: Democrats have now won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Among 18-29-year-old voters, the Democratic advantage actually slipped from four years ago, but Obama still won them by 23% – a huge majority among the next generation of voters. Obama increased the party’s edge with Hispanic voters, winning an extraordinary 71% of their votes. These numbers are replicated obviously among African Americans, but also Asian Americans where the party has a similar near-monopoly. Even as Obama lost white voters by 20 points (which is 8 points worse than 2008), he still won the electoral college handily.
Last night, we saw the emergence of a new Democratic governing majority – one that was hinted at in 2008 – with the potential to serve as the foundation of presidential politics for many years to come. Quite simply, Democrats have once again become the nation’s presidential party.
So what does this mean for actual governing? Here, we need to consider the other big winner from last night: liberals. …
This country has truly changed, and I believe there will be no going back. Hate lost yesterday. That is amazing in and of itself. And all the women who were elected last night! A total rebuke of Neanderthal attitudes.
Now the real work begins. Millions of us – the majority – must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do. Mr. President, do not listen to the pundits who today call for you to “compromise.” No. You already tried that. It didn’t work. You can compromise later if you need to, but please, no more beginning by compromising. And if the Republican House doesn’t want to play ball, do a massive end run around them with one executive order after another – just like they have done and will do if given the chance again.
We have to have Obama’s back. As he is blocked and attacked by the Right, we need to be there with him. We are the majority. Let’s act like it.
And please Mr. President, make the banks and Wall Street pay. You’re the boss, not them. Lead the fight to get money out of politics – the spending on this election is shameful and dangerous. Don’t wait til 2014 to bring the troops home – bring ’em home now. Stop the drone strikes on civilians. End the senseless war on drugs. Act like a pit bull when it comes to climate change – ignore the nuts, and fix this now. Take the profit motive out of things that any civilized country would say, “this is for the common good.” Make higher education affordable for everyone and don’t send 22-year-olds out into the world already in massive debt. Order a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions. Enact economic policy that will create good-paying jobs and spend the money that’s needed to do that. Make your second term one for the history books.
Finally, thanks must be given to the Occupy movement who, a year ago, set the tone of this election year by getting everyone to talk about the 1% vs. 99%. It inspired Obama and his campaign to realize that there was a huge popular sentiment against what the wealthy have done to the country and there was something wrong if just 400 rich guys owned more than 160 million Americans combined (all those moochers and bums). This led to Romney’s “47%” remarks and THAT was the beginning of the end of his campaign. Thank you Mother Jones forreleasing that secret tape, and thank you to the minimum wage worker who placed a camera on the serving buffet next to the candle. This morning’s headline in the Washington Post says it all: “At Romney headquarters, the defeat of the 1 percent.” Thank you Sandra Fluke for enduring the insults hurled at you and then becoming an important grassroots leader against the war on women. Thank you Todd Akin for…well, for just being you. Thank you CEOs of Chrysler and GM for coming out forcefully against the Republican(!) candidate, saying he lived in “some parallel universe” when he lied about Jeep. Thank you Governor Christie for your new bromance with Obama. You know, you really didn’t have to!
And you, Mother Nature, with all your horrific damage, death and destruction you caused last week, you became, ironically, the undoing of a Party that didn’t believe in you or your climate changing powers.
Perhaps they’ll believe now.
Once again, thanks to all of you who brought a nonvoter to the polls. In a last minute effort to get Obama an extra million votes he wasn’t counting on, I enjoyed talking and texting with your loved ones and friends yesterday who weren’t going to vote – but then changed their minds after a little nudge and some TLC (“Damn! Michael Moore? I’m getting in to car right now to go vote.”).
To my fellow Americans, I think you’ll agree: it was nice to wake up this morning in the United States of America.