12 Nov 2012

Obama's Comprehensive Victory

By Hugh Robertson
Not only were Obama and the Democrats roundly endorsed by the American people in last week's election, a range of other progressive issues were advanced by the win, writes Hugh Robertson
Well, the big news is that Barack Obama has been re-elected as President of the United States. In the end, it wasn't even close. Obama's win in Florida (which, as Jon Stewart points out, he didn't need) means he finished with 332 electoral college votes to Romney's 206, and roughly 61 million popular votes to beat Romney's 58 million.

The margin could be bigger — in 2008 Obama won 365 electoral college votes to John McCain's 173, and 70 million votes to 60 million — and given the status quo of a Democrat-controlled Senate and White House but a Republican House of Representatives, it's tempting to believe that, despite the years of campaigning and the billions spent, nothing at all changed. The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, has already launched the first salvo of Obama's second term, arguing in a statement that:

"The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President's first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control."

And it does seem that way if you're just looking at the raw numbers, or the big picture of who controls which chamber of Congress. But Americans voted on a number of important measures further down the ballot, the results of which appear to paint a picture of an electorate leaning left-ward and moving progressively forward.

Obama's coalition of minorities
Much has been made of the Republican Party's over-reliance on older rural male voters as the core of their constituency. In the presidential vote, Mitt Romney won the male vote 52/45, had strong support from voters over 45 and won almost 60 per cent of votes cast by rural voters. But President Obama received similar support from women voters (55/44), voters 18-29 years old (60/37) and voters in cities (62/36), all larger constituencies than the Romney equivalents.

To underscore this point, have a look at the demographics of the Democratic caucus of the 113th Congress, whose terms begins on 3 January: 61 women, 43 African Americans, 27 Hispanics, 10 Asian Americans and 6 LGBT Americans.

A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the Tea Party
The ultra-conservative wing of the Republican party stormed into the national conversation when they led the charge at the 2010 mid-term elections, picking up 63 seats in the most transformative election since 1948.

But this year the Tea Party candidates for the Republican nomination — Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and, to a lesser extent, Rick Santorum — never seriously challenged Mitt Romney, the accepted wisdom being that they would never be able to muster enough support to win a general election.

And on Tuesday, they fared even worse. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock — high-profile members of what The Atlantic has dubbed "the GOP's Rape Apologist Caucus" — both convincingly lost their contests; Allen West lost his Florida congressional seat (although he plans to contest the result); Bachmann herself was barely reelected by the narrowest of margins, and Representative Joe Walsh lost a bitter re-election campaign.

But, sadly, it doesn't seem as though all this will inspire a bout of soul-searching: the votes haven't been fully counted yet, and already Tea Party leaders are blaming Romney and the Republican establishment for not being "conservative enough".

Gay marriage
Prior to Tuesday's vote, same-sex marriage advocates had suffered 32 straight defeats at the ballot, a losing streak that stretched back to 1998. But, now, they have four victories to celebrate in four different states:

Voters in Maine have repealed an existing law banning same-sex marriage, and in the same measure voted in favour of the state issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples, as well as recognising same-sex marriages performed in other states.

In Maryland, citizens voted in favour of a new law that allows same-sex marriage in the state.

In Minnesota, voters rejected a measure that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and which would have therefore made same-sex marriage illegal. This doesn't mean that same-sex marriage is now legal in Minnesota, but it does leave open the possibility of it becoming legal in the future.

In Washington state, voters were asked to approve a new state law that legalised same-sex marriage in the state. At the time of writing the law seems headed for approval, with 52 per cent voting in favour of same-sex marriage.

Marijuana
Colorado and Washington State voted in favour of an amendment to the state constitution that legalises "the production, possession, and distribution of marijuana" for persons 21 and older — putting it on a similar footing with alcohol and cigarettes.

Massachusetts has voted to legalise marijuana for medical purposes, 63/37.

Illegal immigrants
Maryland voters approved a local version of the proposed DREAM Act, a long-debated federal program that provides a pathway to American citizenship for illegal immgrants. Obviously, the Maryland result won't change federal immigration policy, but as a result of this vote undocumented immigrants will pay the same as citizens for tuition at public colleges, provided they complete certain schooling requirements beforehand. It's a huge boost for immigrant families, reducing the cost of tuition by over 70 per cent.

No other state has approved such a law through a popular vote, and the voters of Maryland did so 58/42 — an even greater margin than the one by which it passed through the state legislature.

Minnesota voters rejected an amendment that would require all voters to show photo ID at polling places. Photo ID became a big issue in this election after many Republican legislatures moved to make it necessary to vote. Many argued that this unfairly targeted elderly, minority and young voters — all key Democratic demographics.

Californians vote to raise taxes on the wealthy
Proposition 30, which temporarily raises taxes on those earning above $250,000 a year, passed with almost 54 per cent of the vote. And it did so with high-profile support, with Stephen Spielberg and music mogul David Geffen among its backers.

Granted, California is a reliable Democratic stronghold in presidential politics, but this result could signal the beginning of the end for the Republican ideal of "trickle-down economics" — giving tax cuts to the wealthy in the belief that that money will work its way through the economy to the poor — a cornerstone of conservative economics since Ronald Reagan.

Corporations are people, my friend. (Well, not in Montana...)
In Montana, voters overwhelmingly supported an amendment to that state's constitution that clearly states that corporations are not people, and are not entitled to constitutional rights such as free speech.

This amendment essentially undoes the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling that established that political spending by corporations cannot be restricted by the federal government — a ruling that attracts much of the blame for the obscene amounts of money spent by Super PACs and billionaires in support of their chosen candidates.

Puerto Rico — the 51st state?
Nearly 54 per cent of Puerto Rican voters voted in favour of statehood, which could ultimately see the tiny island become America's 51st state. Currently the island is a territory of the US and is not represented in government, save for one non-voting observer of Congress, and statehood would see them accorded two senators as well as five Congressional representatives. It would also make the island eligible for an extra US$20 billion or so of federal funding.

No one really expects Puerto Rico to achieve statehood any time soon, even though President Obama declared he would make their case to Congress should a clear majority vote in favour of it. But even if this is just the beginning of the process, it's still a significant moment in American history.

Where to now for the Republicans?
Whatever happens between now and 2016, the simple fact is that the Republican base is dramatically shrinking. They have to find some votes somewhere, and two of the demographics where their support is weakest are women and Latinos. Winning votes here will require a significant change in reproductive rights and immigration policy, but the party has been so intransigent on these issues that even a single reasonable policy proposal could go a long way to regaining support.

And there are prominent voices of moderation in the party — especially among the high-profile figures who didn't run for their party's presidential nomination this year. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie are all advocates for a more constructive, less hysterical GOP — even Sean Hannity, one of the right's highest profile ideologues, has "evolved" in his thoughts on illegal immigration. What remains to be seen is whether they can drag their party back to the centre, or be weighed down by the arch-conservative Tea Party that brooks no compromise, and who have unwittingly caused the Republican's demographic marginalisation in their fervent quest for ideological purity.

But what these all of the above results show is a clear, measurable shift in the electorate in favour of classically left-wing causes — a clearer repudiation of conservative hysteria than even the re-election of the president.

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Kevin Charles H...
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 - 20:16

Hugh Roberston:

You write:

"And it does seem that way if you’re just looking at the raw numbers, or the big picture of who controls which chamber of Congress. But Americans voted on a number of important measures further down the ballot, the results of which appear to paint a picture of an electorate leaning left-ward and moving progressively forward".

Any informed DC watcher knows that the US Congress is controlled by neither 'major' party. Rather, Amercia's is run by its shadow government i.e the MIC, the MSM, the US Federal Reserve & the one foreign government with multiple permanent DC foreign policy lobby groups.

As Ron Paul said when asked if he thought the emergence of a 3rd federal party would make a difference to the current poltical power sharing,he would like to see the emergence of a second party.

Your review epitomises the deckchairs on the Titanic view of US politics. You really need to read more widely.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. DrGideonPolya
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 08:51

I agree with Kevin Charles Herbert that the article was too uncriitically optimistic. Obama was very much the lesser of 2 evils - racist religious right Republican (R4) and Christian Zionist warmonger Romney would have been an utter disaster for America and the World. Some advances re gay marriage, marijuana decriminalization, immigrants, or opposition to photo-ID-based exclusion from voting in several states is welcome but collectively a very small step for the union of 50 states - as Arisitotle put it : "One swallow does not a summer make".

Obama remains the puppet of the Neocon American and Zionist Imperialist One Percenters, the Military-Industrial Complex, the endlessly lying Mainstream Media, nuclear terrorist Apartheid Israel and the traitorous racist Zionists (see "Review. The Crisis of Zionism. Apartheid Israel & Palestinian Genocide": http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/20182-crisis-of-zionism.html . Some major additional problems:

1. The Republicans still dominate the House of Representatives and both Houses of Congress are in thrall to the traitorous racist Zionists and the race-based, nuclear terrorist rogue state of Apartheid Israel.

2. There is massive disenfranchisement of Hispanics and African Americans, variously through photo-ID requirement , felonisation and other mechanisms. Thus only 22% of African American adult males were perrmitted to vote in Chicago - by way of comparison Aung Sang Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party that won 43 out of 45 seats in the latest by-elections has only 6-7% of the seats in Myanmar's pariament and Apartheid Israel racism ensures that only 6.7% of 12 million Palestinians are permitted to vote for the government ruling all of Palestine plus a slab a Syria (see "Sanctions Needed Against Anti-Democracy Myanmar
And Anti-Democracy Apartheid Israel": http://www.countercurrents.org/polya040412.htm and "Michelle Alexander, The Age of Obama as a Racial Nightmare": http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175520/best_of_tomdispatch%3A_michelle_a... ).

3. Under Obama US-backed wars are ongoing in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. Whose next for Zionist-backed devastation: Mali? Iran?

4. Before the elections Obama declined to approve the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline under threat from the environmentalists to withdraw their support if he did. Obama cited environmental concerns in the northern US at the time rather than the planet-threatening implications of burning oil from the huge Canadian oil sands. In his victory speech Obama mention ed "independence from foreign oil" which is likely code for approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

An optimistic estimate of commercially extractable oil from the Alberta oil sands deposits indicates generation of 600 billion tonnes of CO2 on combustion. This is precisely the same as the terminal global CO2 pollution budget between now and zero emissions in 2050 that must not be exceeded if the world is to avoid a disastrous 2C temperature rise (according to the WBGU, the expert body advising the German Government on climate change).

Top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (head, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies; adjunct professor, 82-Nobel-Laureate Columbia University; and author of "Storms of My Grandchildren") has stated that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline means "game over" for the climate of the Planet. 350.org ("reduce atmospheric CO2 to no more than 350 ppm") and the Sierra Club are backing a big demonstration in Washington on 18 November to oppose Obama approving this terracidal pipeline now that he has been elected and no longer needs their support (see "Enviros quickly press victorious Obama to nix Keystone pipeline", The Hill: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/266401-enviros-quickly-press-vi... ).\

5. 1 million Americans die preventably each year due to the fiscal perversion this century of committing (accrual cost) $5 trillion to killing Muslims abroad (9 million this century so far) rather than saving American lives at home (see: "One Million Americans Die Preventably Annually In USA ": http://www.countercurrents.org/polya180212.htm and "Endless war on terror. Huge cost for Australia & America": http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/22149-endless-war-on-terror.html ).

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

Frank from Frankston
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 14:54

This is racial prejudice. The tribal politics of identity.
Is this the end of democracy as we once knew it - voting for the good of a nation as opposed to the good of your "tribe"?

Some 93% of African American voters voted for the African American Candidate.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2229225/Presidential-election-20...

In a second iteration of Obama's first election victory.

Not that long ago, Martin Luther King eulogized about his dream where someone would be judged by the "content of their character" rather than the colour of their skin.

This obviously hasn't happened, and it is misanthropic for anyone to rejoice in a vote decided on race lines.

And it is the key fact missing from your paragraph "Obama’s coalition of minorities", in which you provide no evidence of any coalition.

One can guess Romney wasn't voted for by so many because he is white. That was the sole reason why Romney wasn't the winner.

davidstephens
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 17:33

David Stephens

Questions for Kevin Charles Herbert. (1) What wider reading would you recommend? (2) I see from your Facebook page that you are currently living in Paris. I wondered how the Ron Paul filter works on the politics of la belle France. Let them eat cake, Kev!

HughRobertson
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 15:44

Frank,

Democratic Party candidates for president always get tremendous support from African-American voters. In fact, Obama's 93 per cent is only three points higher than received by Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, both of whom suffered enormous losses in their presidential campaigns.

The figures below come from Talking Points Memo, showing what percentage of the African-American vote each candidate received:

1984 - Walter Mondale 90% vs Ronald Reagan 9%
1988 - Michael Dukakis 90% vs George H.W. Bush 10%
1992 - Bill Clinton 83% vs George H.W. Bush 10%
1996 - Bill Clinton 84% vs Bob Dole 12%
2000 - Al Gore 90% vs George W. Bush 9%

Clearly, African-Americans vote Democratic regardless of the skin colour (or, indeed, the electoral viability) of the candidate in question.

And perhaps the word “coalition” suggests a unified, organised front, as with the Liberal-National Coalition in Australia, but I used to merely to point out that Obama won because the levels of support he received from smaller constituencies were enough to outweigh his low level of support among white males voters - THE key constituency in the past.

As for saying the "the sole reason" Romney didn't win because he was white - you don't think his total lack of an economic policy might have contributed? Or his choice of Vice-Presidential nominee, who wants to strip bare the entitlement programs that so many Americans are forced to rely on? Or the awful things that members of his own party have been saying over the course of this election season? Or the calculated way in which they forced the country to the brink of defaulting on its loans because they wanted to score political points? Or the fact that his campaign seems to have been re-calculating poll numbers because they "knew" that the polls were wrong about Romney's level of support? Or the way the GOP has demonised women during the campaign, decrying them as sluts and liars for wanting the right to control their own medical care?