In 2008, President Obama won the presidential election on a popular vote that admired his charisma, commitment and competence. There was no doubt in the days leading up to that election, that Obama had won the hearts of America and the admiration of thousands of people around the world who were all rooting for his success.
Four years later, however, the hype and energy that drove the Obama 2008 campaign have waned significantly and the most recent polls suggest that it will be a fight to the finish as to whether Obama will be given another four-year term as the President of the United States.
The fact that his contender, Governor Mitt Romney, has moved steadily forward over the past few weeks, narrowing the margin between himself and Obama, the latter being way ahead when the race for President began, proves that nothing must be taken for granted when seeking to maintain and win the support of the people.
Whereas in his first term of office, President Obama was able to place much of the blame for his inability to meet timelines set for turning around the economy on the past Republican administration, this excuse will soon pass its expiration date.
Many Obama supporters were devastated about his poor showing in the first presidential debate some weeks ago, a dismal performance which some political analysts believe resulted in the rise of the Romney ratings. In that debate, the President seemed unprepared and tired and was certainly no match for the focused and energetic Romney, who took early control of the game.
President Obama later apologised for disappointing his supporters and promised a much better performance for the next debate. And true to his word, in the second debate the President was energetic and animated and took an early lead in putting the pressure on his opponent to explain the inconsistent statements that the Obama camp claims have been made throughout the Romney campaign.
The lesson, of course, is that while the President did not take sufficient time out to prepare himself for the first debate and probably underestimated the strength of his opponent, such unforced errors were not made for the second debate.
And one could expect, with the Obama ratings receiving a much needed push above Romney, that the President will give an even better showing in the third and final debate.
So how does all of this discussion about the US presidential debates bear any relevance to the politics at home? Well, it is clear that this regime is taking its base for granted and pushing the envelope to the edge of the political table. The People’s Partnership won by an overwhelming majority in 2010 and its leader was able to convince the population that finally there was a political force on the landscape that would be a champion of democracy and a voice of the people.
But after almost two years of its administration, this coalition government has been the subject of great political disappointment even among its base and it is predicted, that should it continue along this course of self-destruction it will be shamefully defeated in the next general election.
It is for this reason, that the government should immediately assess its performance in the eyes of the public and not be seen to be imposing itself on the population. I have stated on numerous occasions that the Prime Minister does not have an easy task keeping her ministers in line and must be frustrated with the constant responsibility of having to do damage control when her ministers are accused of acting with impropriety.
The stories in the newspapers about apparent wrongdoings by ministers must be a recurring nightmare for this charismatic leader, who has been able to ride out, so far, every political storm that has blown her way. If luck has been on her side, then surely she knows that eventually luck runs out and so too does the goodwill of the people, who have been initially understanding and forgiving in the wake of past scandals and controversies.
But the timeline for blaming the PNM regime for all the woes of the nation has passed and this government is being called upon to deliver on all its promises of accountability and transparency in affairs of the State. The year 2013 begins with the elections in Tobago followed by the election for the post of President of the Republic and then local government elections. Each of these events will determine the likelihood of this government being given another term in office come 2013.
It is not too late for the Prime Minister to read the riot act to all her members and remind them that as the lady in charge she is ultimately responsible to the people. The shame and embarrassment that this government has brought upon itself will not be easily forgotten or wiped away—but take some advice: the people of T&T are more politically aware than before, and will not be naïve in the elections that are to come.