Now that President Barack Obama has been declared winner of the US presidential election, a sigh of relief has gone out throughout the land among Democrats and many progressives. The media scenario currently being promoted states that Obama is representing the middle class while Republican Mitt Romney is simply a stand-in for Wall Street bankers. (Never mind that the entire election system is completely rigged in favor the two major political parties.)
Green Party candidate Jill Stein the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson were never a factor in the elections despite their gallant efforts to mount national grassroots presidential campaigns. Despite several alternative party debates sponsored by Democracy Now! and RT, the US corporate media largely ignored them. The press also refused to cover Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. These politicians were all fighting against the first billion dollar election campaign in US history but their supporters were struggling just to get them on the ballot in all 50 states.
Without proportional representation or instant run-off voting systems, the US is left with the antiquated and undemocratic Electoral College to decide who becomes President. Add to that the unsolved issue of Republican owned computer voting machines and the usual state election board shenanigans, and you can see why the country needs international observers during the elections.
But the good news is that in spite of mass spending on negative campaign ads, the infamous Koch brothers were unable to buy the election for their neo-con Wall Street candidate, Mitt Romney. Their politician’s moralistic rhetoric did not convince the majority of American voters to elect a neo-con ideologue or support conservative initiatives. Instead, Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana, while Maryland and Maine supported gay marriage. All of the efforts to suppress the voters came to naught as the majority chose to re-elect President Obama.
So, now that the election is over, what has really changed? Will we finally decide to house the homeless and feed the hungry? Will we stop the foreign military interventions that have bankrupt our nation both morally and economically? Will the federal and local governments continue to impose economic austerity measures on the people, wiping out the middle class and generating mass poverty? What does President Barack Obama have to say to the folks sleeping on the cold streets in downtown Seattle? How will his re-election make these people’s lives better?
My one major observation is this – if we really want to change the politics and economics of our country, we’ll have to start with changing the election system. A significant percentage of the citizenry either doesn’t vote at all, or their votes are being ignored because they cast their ballot for an alternative party candidate who has no chance of winning. Many of these people are completely turned off by a system controlled by big money. Many of the Occupy Wall Street activists refused to vote for Barack Obama because of his support for the public bailouts of corporate banks. They also oppose his support for the NDAA, Patriot Act, presidential authorization of assassinations, and the use of drones. They see him as just another military industrial complex warrior.
The great epidemic of apathy that has infected US civics is the natural result of a culture based on crass media consumerism and privatization of public services and spaces. The multinational corporations are trans global financial entities with no loyalty to their workers or to the communities where they build their factories. Outsourcing of jobs to low paid workers in foreign countries is now the modus operandi for most large companies. President Obama has a lot of work to do if he wants to clean up Wall Street and hold the multinationals accountable. During his first term he seemed to be a hostage to large businesses and their highly paid lobbyists.
After all of the budget cuts to healthcare, social services, public transportation and education, the middle class is fast becoming the new poor. Unemployment, home foreclosures and corruption on Wall Street have all contributed to the current depression, and after numerous public bailouts of private corporations, the banksters are still playing their deceitful game of monopoly.
President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech on November 6th was full of inspiring rhetoric about equality and opportunity. Unlike his opponent in the campaign, it’s clear that the President understands what it’s like to have to struggle in order to survive economically. Although he may have joined the one percent, that is not where he came from. His story represents the old traditional American Dream of the self-made man or woman pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps and inspiring other folks along the way. By comparison, Mitt Romney often came across as a spoiled rich kid.
Barack Obama is a largely a fact based politician. Perhaps he’s too apt to concede his positions on vital issues, but at least he talks to the people as if he understands them. While Romney’s speeches are full of well rehearsed pro-business propaganda and neo-con talking points, Obama has the ability to reach out to the average American and tell their story. Governor Romney could only reach the Wall Street crowd and their traditional conservative cronies – religious and right-wing extremist groups.
Whatever the outcome of this election, the voters are hoping that Barack Obama will use his second term in office to push for the interests of the 99% instead of for the wealthy and corrupted elite. He now has the chance to prove that he’s a man of the people.
If the President continues to give priority to the interests of JP Morgan/Chase and Goldman/Sachs he will lose his current status as a populist figure in the minds of many Americans. Obama has to prove to the country that he is going to stand up for the little guy against the corporate interests. If he really is a leader of the future, breaking down racial and economic barriers and stereotypes, he must bail out the people this time, not just the banks!