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Friday, April 25, 2014
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Much to read into Obama’s win
A coalition of liberal (young) whites, blacks loyal to their own, an ever-expanding base of Hispanics and elements of an Asian population, all of whom see the necessity to break the stranglehold of the established white power structure of the United States, gave a second term to Barack Obama.
Question is: Will this coalition grow in size, strength domestic importance in economic, political and social terms; and will it in the future impact on US foreign policy, perhaps making it less strident, less economically harsh and exploitative to developing countries outside of the dominant Euro-America power politics of the last 200 years?
Maybe that is attempting to push it too far, too fast. Whether it happens quickly or not, the outlines of the changing nature of US internal politics and its possible impact on the international order are visible.
In different states, Mitt Romney received over 60 per cent, at times over 70 per cent ,of the white traditional vote and of those in the old establishment (especially males) while President Obama gathered more than 90 per cent of the black vote (inclusive of the Caribbean diaspora) and upwards of 60 per cent of the Latino vote.
Not too incidentally, there has been a precipitous decline in the white vote as part of the whole from 88 per cent in 1980 to 72 per cent in 2012.
I have not seen figures on how the indigenous American (the most-wronged ethnic group of American society) voted but it would be interesting to know how the original inhabitants of America who were savaged-off the lands of their ancestors and isolated on reservation camps, denied an education and social status, are reacting as the “white-eyes” with “fork tongues.”
Latinos may have gained most given Obama’s stance on immigration. In one statement earlier this year, President Obama literally welcomed immigrant students went to America, got grants from the State and performed extraordinarily well at college and in post-graduate degrees to stay on after graduation to contribute to economic growth and innovation. This era of Caribbean scholars will no doubt benefit from further liberalisation of immigration policy.
As an aside, the Republican candidates of the last two presidential elections have not been particularly strong, Romney was given a lifeline when President Obama performed dismally in the first debate allowing his Republican rival to begin to look presidential.
Buoyed by the prospects of a victory and careful about adopting too conservative a position, Romney and his advisers under-played the ideological differences between himself and the President. In the debate on foreign policy, Romney’s overseas policies seemed little different from Obama’s – maybe that was a mistake.
But to the nitty-gritty of President Obama second term, he will no doubt strive to implement his economic programme to over-turn the Bush policies which brought ruin to the financial system by, among other things, removing regulations from the financial sector.
Obama’s immediate challenge (the Fiscal Cliff) is the December 31 end to Bush-era tax cuts along with Obama’s economic stimulus packages, his promised imposition of increased taxes on the rich (those who earn over US$250,000 per year) and the planned budgetary cuts to bring down the deficits.
The total money impact of the measures has been estimated at US$700 billion. How the President seeks to negotiate and finesse his way through a Republican-controlled Congress, which must be bristling for a battle it can win, holds potential for successful bipartisanship.
For the international community, Obama’s greatest potential achievement of his second term and historical legacy would be to impact positively on the conflict in the Middle East. Bringing Iran to a point of reasonableness with its nuclear programme and threats against Israel would be an extraordinary achievement.
To initiate an equitable settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be a miracle. If such a settlement is even approached, peace in the Middle East connected to the western world has a chance. At the same time, the US President must find a way to win support from Russia and China to give Syria’s Assad the treatment he deserves.
One of the realities of international economics and politics in this century, which is tied into the loosening of the grip of the traditional white power structure in US politics, is well-reflected in the latest economic survey of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development–the rich industrialised countries of North America, Europe and Japan.
As early as 2016, the US will cede the position of the largest economy to China, and to India no more than a decade after, states the OECD report. Of course there remain deep inequities within the Asian giants and serious areas of under-development in those vast countries. But the OECD expects that China and India will soon surpass the collective economies of the G7 countries.
Meanwhile, “the fast-ageing economic heavyweights such as Japan and Euro-area will gradually lose ground on the global GDP table to countries with younger populations, like Indonesia and Brazil,” states the OECD. There is much to be read into the outcome of the US presidential elections.
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