In a disturbing result bearing ominous portents for the economic, social and military stability of the United States — and, to an extent, the rest of the Western world — President Barack Obama has been re-elected by the narrowest of margins. His new four-year term promises to be a rough ride.
Is this a legitimate win by Obama? Of course it is; he won the popular vote, the votes in most of the so-called “swing states,” and he won the electoral college.
There is a saying in Australia that Australians get the governments they deserve; I’d imagine many Americans would be saying the same thing right about now. But enough of them voted for Obama to re-elect him and so, for the next four years, the rest of them are stuck with him.
Aren’t we all?
The Red And The Blue, whilst heartily disappointed that Obama remains as President, nevertheless wishes to extend congratulations to him on his election win today; at the very minimum, we can at least say it is the last time such pleasantries will be required.
Because whilst Obama is a good and decent man, his ideas leave everything to be desired, and with the mess the United States is in at present it is to be hoped the honourable gentleman deploys a rather different approach to the next four years to the last four.
This election really mattered; the US economy is in the toilet, for starters.
For all the talk of auto industry bailouts in Ohio, the wider economic problem persists: stubbornly high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, negligible domestic consumer confidence, the obscene practice of printing dollars to artificially deflate the US economy, and federal debt running at 107% of GDP.
In turn — to a country like Australia — these measures translate to an overvalued currency that hurts Australian businesses (whilst nonetheless failing to effect the intended correction in the US), softening export markets, sagging inbound tourism numbers, and an increased cost of capital for businesses and banks operating in this country. Just to name a few of the ill-effects of President Obama.
Are there other partners of the US on whom this administration has not adversely impacted? I doubt it.
It is true that Obama inherited an economy from George W. Bush in a disparate state, partly on account of the so-called GFC, which in turn was partly the result of poor prudential regulation in the USA by administrations of both political stripes stretching over decades.
In short, after four years, Obama should have made a difference.
The fact that his administration has failed to do so has nothing to do with George W. Bush, or the Republican Party, or the GFC.
But it has much to do with the fact Obama isn’t a leader’s bootlace: even in the first part of his term, with control of Congress, he enacted nothing which has proven to be of economic benefit in the latter.
Rather, it has been more important to play games, blame Republicans, reject negotiated outcomes and consensus measures, and engage in the rhetoric of utopian left-wing social nirvana.
The rhetoric, mind; aside from the detested so-called Obamacare package, Obama has achieved little in terms of meaningful outcomes.
This is an administration that has failed to pass a budget in almost four years; never mind the fact the US Constitution says it will be done once per year.
This is an administration under whose watch government debt has ballooned to US$16 trillion, or 107% of GDP.
This is an administration which has overlooked its traditional allies in favour of currying sympathy with the regimes of murderous despots in the hope appeasement will simply make them disappear from the radar.
And this is an administration which has actively hacked away at the US defence capability and the budget that underpins it, and this includes the strategic forces — at a time when emerging and resurgent rivals in China and Russia are expanding or modernising their capabilities, and at a time when the US and its allies face unprecedented security threats from a range of malevolent entities across the world.
And the snub of Israel — and, by extension, of the Jewish people generally — is despicable.
Yet this has been the face of government in the US for four years, and so it will be for another four.
We believe that Mitt Romney was a flawed yet worthy candidate; whether he was or not, however, is immaterial, on one consideration: after the past four years, anyone could have done better than Obama has.
And so the buck stops with Obama — again.
We hope that in the coming four years, Obama embraces the spirit of bipartisanship, because if he doesn’t, nothing will get done in Washington.
Unlike other democracies, Obama does not have the option of early elections to fall back on.
And in any case, an insistence on his way or the highway — when the US really isn’t in good shape anyway — simply won’t cut it.
Obama might be President, but he also has a responsibility to uphold his country’s constitution, and to govern for all of its citizens — not simply a select few.
And if that means working with his enemies in Congress, so be it: the buck stops with Obama.
It is to be hoped that the left-wing social agenda is to be put aside in deference to four years of grinding, orthodox, dour government delivering services, policy outcomes and tangible results.
And it needs to be pointed out that the black and Latino and other communities which have voted for Mr Obama — and which experience disproportionately extreme levels of poverty and unemployment compared to the national average — now have Obama and his Democratic Party to blame for their continuing plight, and not the white establishment historically held out as responsible for their misfortune.
For if Obama is their “saviour” then save them he must — and to fail them is to commit a flagrant moral breach of trust with those who have entrusted him with helping them to improve their lot as citizens of the American republic.
Mitt Romney — accepting his party’s nomination for the Presidency back in September, pointed out that
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans…and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”
For everybody’s sake, Obama would be well advised to forget about this ridiculous and undeliverable mantra of contemporary socialist posturing, and get on with helping the families of his countrymen.
There are plenty of inherent risks in the continuation of this Presidency. None of us really wants to see them played out. But unless he changes tack now, Obama is doomed to fail. The consequences could be disastrous.
So much for a triumph.
Secretly, perhaps Obama wishes this was the election he might have lost.
Congratulations again, Mr President.