This last US election was very personal to my wife – Bonna, and me. We knew President Obama’s first term was patchy. He had faced the challenge of handling one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression: the unemployment rate was rising tremendously, the housing market collapsed, gas prices were skyrocketing, and so on. Despite all this, we did not desire to replace Obama with Mitt Romney, a fate that would have undoubtedly rewound the nation back to Bush’s failed policy – the ultimate root of all mess. Shouldn’t the final blame be administered to George Bush, the “Cowboy Diplomat”, who “drove our new car into this ditch” in broad daylight? Well, I am not making this up – let the data decide. When George W. Bush took office from Clinton, the US reserve had 5.6 trillion dollar surplus; by the time Bush left office, however, we suddenly found ourselves in an ocean of 11-plus-trillion dollar debt. Obama put forth the effort to steer America out of this ditch; or in more specific terms, he at least stopped the problem from escalating. Despite his shortcomings, President Obama has managed to drag America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, thus avoiding a double dip recession. This alone is a fair enough achievement for us to choose him as the captain of our ship. But Obama’s changes tackled not only economic issues, but on critical social issues as well: women’s health, a woman’s choice to abort, gay rights, minority rights, marriage equality, immigration policy, and health care, just to name a few. These issues were so vital that we even decided to make a personal contribution to Obama’s campaign. But I’m not mentioning this for the purpose of bragging. Our contribution, regardless of how large or small it may have been, was a really serious decision from our part. We had never contributed to any political campaign before –not in Bangladesh, the country in the world where I was born more than forty years ago, and not in the US where I finally moved and settled with my family. This time, we decided to take an action during the election campaign, not because we entirely agreed with the media calling it ‘most important election of our lifetime’, but because we at least realized some of its gravity. I am glad that our small contribution was paid off as the results were in accord with our aspirations for this nation.
Yes, Barack Obama made history again. Four years ago, he became the first African American elected president, promoting a wave of hope and promises of change. Tuesday night he was victorious in crucial states (such as Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio), allowing him to be the 17th President to win a second term. Moreover, he is probably the first president since Franklin Roosevelt to win a two- term with unemployment rates so high (around 8%) and the nation looking so uneasy about the its future. The president stormed to victory in swing states, from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, assuring his re-election even as voters in Florida, Virginia, and Colorado rendered a closer verdict.
Many of the republican “pundits” like Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove et al had predicted a Romney landslide. In the end, however, the result wasn’t even close. Barack Obama won handily with 303 electoral votes, way more than the 270 electoral votes needed for his second term. Of the nine battleground states that were up for grabs, Obama won 7 of them, losing only North Carolina (Florida was still limbo sate). In effect, it was President Obama who had a landslide victory instead of Romney, the exact opposite of what his Republican opposition had predicted.
Based on my observation of current events, the Republican Party has made a name for itself as a greedy, self-centered, and old-fashioned “grandma” party. Tuesday’s verdict showed that the majority of the nation does not desire to embrace this description. Governor Romney and his team mate Paul Ryan lost even in their own states, Massachusetts and Wisconsin respectively. The majority of young folks chose Obama for his stable vision, rather than putting Romney, and subsequent war-mongering Republicans in power. More encouraging news on election night was how Richard Murdock and Todd Akin, the leaders of the Republican party’s newly dubbed “Team Rape”, all lost. So much for preaching, ‘some girls rape easy’, ‘legitimate rape’ and ‘God-intended rape’ by the Republican prophets of rape! Perhaps Todd Akin’s idea that women can ‘shut that whole thing down’ (in reference to a woman’s supposed ability to terminate a pregnancy at will) was right after all; when women’s bodies are threatened by men, they can really shut that all down – and its by voting! Obama’s support from women is seen in how 55 percent of women voted for him, as well as in the fact that Obama had higher likability factor among single women than Romney did. Single and unmarried women voted overwhelmingly in favor of Obama in this election and the statistics infuriated conservatives (see here). It seems as if Beyoncé was indeed correct – It was ‘all the single ladies’ who put their hands up, and brought millions to vote for Barack “I am Sexy, and I know it” Obama. The “Mating Mind” of evolutionary psychology triumphs after all, even in the presidential election!
Pic : Todd Akin, former Republican Missouri Senate candidate, said that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” In other words, he is saying that if a woman does get pregnant, she must not have been “legitimately raped”.
The media has always been a huge factor in most US elections; suffice to say, truth also exists outside the confines of Fox News! As television networks began declaring that President Barack Obama had won re-election, the most captivating televised drama Tuesday evening played out on Fox News, where Republican strategist Karl Rove refused to believe the race between Obama and Mitt Romney was over. Poor Rove! Self-proclaimed media pundit Karl should have learned from Nate Silver, a former baseball statistician who now authors a blog for the New York Times called FiveThirtyEight, correctly predicted the winner of each of the 50 states way before the election was over. Comedian Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” nailed it on his show this week that Nate’s method worked because rather than being based on right wing bias, it was based off of simple science and, most importantly, “arithmetic”!
However, it’s not only the angry, ultra-conservative pundits who created the mess; the two candidates, particularly Romney, also had something major to contribute. Let’s consider the famous auto bailout incident. Romney could not overcome the ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt’ column that he had opinioned four years prior for The New York Times. He also opposed aid for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, saying that they should file for bankruptcy before getting government aid. As if not enough, Romney also failed to have a consistent message for the auto industry, evidenced by a notorious comment in one of his campaign ads just before the election –
“I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep — now owned by the Italians — is thinking of moving all production to China,” Romney said at a rally in Defiance, Ohio, home to a General Motors powertrain plant. “I will fight for every good job.”
The story came out to be entirely false — Chrysler was actually considering adding Jeep production in China for Chinese buyers — and it had been pointed by Chrysler chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, before Romney got time to manage it. In addition, GM has also criticized the Republican’s tactics, claiming the advertisements encapsulated “cynical politics.” The Ohio exit polls showed that 59 percent favored the auto bailout and 36 percent opposed it. Of those in favor, 75 percent voted for Obama. Also, despite the repeated right-wing attack on Obama’s stimulus program, federal stimulus had created an estimated 3 million jobs. Fox-watching right wingers never understood the benefits that poor and middleclass people would derive from Obama’s healthcare.
As long as the Republican Party continues to let anti-science, religious fundamentalists, such as Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity, Karl Rove, and Dick Morris, the so-called “team of rape” dictates its social agenda, I see no hope for the party in future. At the moment, this party is very vocal against gay rights and abortion rights, and it is mainly dominated by extreme, right wing tea-party and religious nuts. Female voters and socially progressive people are sick of attacks on immigrants, gays, women, and their respective rights. The Republican Party cannot fathom that the younger generation would not support such ultra-conservativeness. Gay rights and marriage, for example, were once considered taboo topics and were so controversial that right-wingers used the issue to demonize the liberals. But gone are those days! Polls show the younger generation to be far more liberal about gay marriage than those over the age of fifty, and they are more likely to personally know and associate themselves with gay couples and friends. My daughter and her school friends are even evidence of this, seeing as they view the issue quite differently from the previous generation.
This past May, President Obama became the first sitting president to support marriage equality, and he has continued to voice his support for the LGBT community. He admits that his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, influenced his stance on same-sex marriage. This time, voters even elected the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate, Tammy Baldwin. Politicians will lose ground if they continuously ignore the minds of young people and maintain the conservative status quo. On the top of it, the Republicans are also going to face a huge crisis in the near future: the “melting pot” status of the United States. This US is growing less and less white, whereas its coalition has become more white in recent years, forming policies that are tougher on immigrants. What conclusions can we make when we see that President Obama won the Hispanic vote by 44 percentage points, 8 percentage points more than in 2008? Even Matthew Dowd, a former campaign adviser to President George W. Bush, referred to the Republican Party as “a ‘Mad Men’ party in a ‘Modern Family’ America and “it just doesn’t fit any more” on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Pic: In this election voters elected the first openly lesbian member of the U.S. Senate, Tammy Baldwin.
And then there’s Donald Trump. Sincerely Republicans, who needs an enemy when Donald trump is on your side? Despite the robustness of Trump’s head and hairstyle, he seems to be missing a vital part of his forebrain. But then, how can the fun of a presidential election, ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’, be complete without the contribution of America’s number one clown? This must be the reason Trump, who lacks the intellectual capacity of an average ant, continues to receive so much press coverage.
On election night, Trump began tweeting in the wake of President Barack Obama’s projected victory –
“The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,”
fumed the celebrity mogul. He then tweeted,
“We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”
After news outlets projected that Obama had won, Trump tweeted,
“Well, back to the drawing board!”
He then proceeded to encourage a
“revolution in this country.”
Huh? Revolution? March on Washington? Trump sounds more like a Castro-loving, revolution-seeking socialist (I thought it was Obama?) than the real estate, capitalist mogul that he is. But, who knows, I may be wrong; perhaps, capitalism has other meaning nowadays.
Interestingly, Donald Trump deleted those tweets next day – the tweets calling for ‘revolution’ and incorrectly saying that Obama had lost the popular vote.
Donald has had a long history of talking such nonsense to put himself in the center of media spotlight. He has been a leading proponent of the ‘birther’ theory that Obama does not have the right to be president because he was born in Kenya, although the state of Hawaii has offered documents to prove that Obama was indeed born in the States. It has been more than a year after President Barack Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate, and looks like Donald Trump is still not convinced. Recently, Trump challenged in a home-made video that if President Obama released his college records and his passport application, the businessman would give a $5 million check to a charity of Obama’s choosing.
I found last week comedian and political satirist Bill Maher’s following comment his show, Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO, very amusing:
“New Rule: Donald Trump must immediately submit to a DNA test to determine — to determine whether he is, in fact, the love child of a human woman and an orangutan from the Brooklyn Zoo. Look, Donald, I’m not saying that your mother was repeatedly fucking an orangutan back in the 1940s. I don’t know if that’s true, I hope it’s not true. But given your face, your physique, your intelligence level, and of course your hair, the American people deserve some real proof that your mother did not spend most nights in 1945 covering her body in banana oil, sneaking into the monkey cage, and compulsively humping an orange-haired ape.”
Well “Birther clowns” are not only on the conservative side, but exist on the progressive side as well. Remember Ali Sina — the founder of Faith Freedom International, who claims that thousands of Muslims have left Islam after reading his articles and books – has often been cited by Desi- neocons to propagate their anti-Islamic zeal and their profound hatred towards Muslims, would be an interesting case in discussion. While I often consider Sina’s debunking of Islam important, his political ideology is as extreme, if not more so, as the Republican crazy-nuts. Philosophically, he is incapable of differentiating between science and the paranormal mumbo jumbos. He once came out a supporter of new-age paranormal, psychic power and voodoo science (Some proofs are here), even though he loved to call himself a ‘rational person’. But let’s not dwell on such paradoxical philosophical dilemmas today; some of my rational friends including “amazing” James Randi, Brent Meeker and Aparthib have already exposed his unstable rational philosophy few years ago (see here or here). Let’s rather focus today on his hatemongering neo-conservative gibberish towards the US president he made. When Obama elected for the first time, all the progressive sites like Mukto-Mona rejoiced the victory of first African American president (see here, or here; Bengali readers can read some of our Bangla articles from here, here, here or here). There were reasons for us to be happy and proud. When looking back at the sweep of American presidency over the last 112 years, most of the names, policies and days can easily get lost in the mist of time. However, some moments are simply unforgettable and profound, as Steve Jobs liked to say, they “made a dent in the Universe”. Similar to JFK rejoicing first moon landing, LBJ invoking “we shall overcome” to pass the Voting Rights Act, and Regan demanding “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down the wall” to end the cold war, Obama was also able to stir the world when he addressed the nation in his victory speech of the election of 2008 –“If there is anyone out there who doubts that America is a place where anything is possible”, he uttered, ‘tonight is your answer’. It was indeed a defining moment in the history of US presidency. That a man whose ancestors included a slave could come to be the leader of a nation founded to some extent in slavery, is as much an achievement for the country as it is a marker for Obama himself. Most people in the US and outside viewed Obama as decent, intelligent, progressive and principled person, however, right after the 2008 election, Iranian ex-Muslim ‘freethinker’ Ali began penning a series of articles describing Obama to be a closet-muslim, outright liar, narcissist, and fraud. For example, in one of his articles Ali wrote,
“Pathological narcissism, is not akin to typical narcissism—someone with a hedonistic or self-centered sense of self —but rather someone with a very weak sense of self. Obama’s narcissism is pathological.
Ali was so sure that the American president was a ‘fraud’, that he penned an article in his self-proclaimed Freethinking site saying:
“Obama came to power via fraud. He is not a ’natural born’ U.S. citizen. The clear proof of that is that despite 31 lawsuits filed against him demanding he prove his eligibility for the U.S. Presidency, he has instead hired three law firms and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to avoid discovery and evade a judicial review”.
As mentioned earlier, President Obama decided to release his ‘long-form birth certificate’ in response to the moronic ramblings of these “birthers”. Not surprisingly, the copy of his long-form birth certificate could not convince ‘freethinker’ Ali Sina, just like it could not convince ‘republican intellectual’ Donald Trump, otherwise. Sina wrote an article ‘The Audacity of Fraud’ where he claimed that a forged certificate was put in the US government site to fool people. He declared, “the forgery has been made by someone with very little knowledge of Photoshop and layers, which makes me believe that it is done by Obama himself”. In the same article Sina mentioned Donald Trump’s name at least twice as a legitimate source, asserting that “Donald Trump did a great work forcing this impostor to make this move that should seal his doom” (I was so amused by this that it reminded me of the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together”). While even neo-cons favor Fox-News confessed that No Doubt Obama’s Birth Certificate Is Legit, and numerous sites (like this one) investigated the certificate independently, or even few books have been written by computer experts (for e.g. Is Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate a Fraud?: A Computer Guy Examines The Evidence For Forgery by John Woodman), and all came to the same conclusion that Obama’s certificate was indeed real, nevertheless, ‘non-narcissist rational freethinker’ Ali Sina had no doubt in his mind that “the document is tampered. The president of the united states is a criminal.”
Though Ali stayed mysteriously silent in recent election, it takes little intellect to make the assumption that Sina and other Neo-Con cohorts alike were a tad bit hurt when it was announced that ‘Kenya-born, non-American, criminal Muslim’, Barack Hussein Obama, had won reelection. Let Trump and Sina mourn for a while, and let the rest of us–who view Obama not as a ‘Muslim’, a ‘Kenyan’, nor a ‘socialist’, but as a ‘two-term all-American President’ (just as Woodrow Wilson, Eisenhower, Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton and others who served two full terms)–celebrate his humble victory. The cartoon caption published in LA Times after Obama’s victory captures the notion succinctly:
On election night, after a long, nail-biting, Rove-created confusing hours, President Obama received the “concession call” from Romney, who went into Election Night expecting a landslide victory and was “shellshocked” when he finally came to terms with the fact that he had lost. Obama sent an email to his supporters and contributors, where one copy of the email came to my account:
I’m about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.
I want you to know that this wasn’t fate, and it wasn’t an accident. You made this happen.
You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn’t easy, you pressed forward.
I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.
But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.
Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.
There’s a lot more work to do.
But for right now: Thank you.
“This wasn’t fate, and it wasn’t an accident. You made this happen” – is still resounding in my head, even though I know I was only one of the millions of supporters and activists who helped make this memorable incident happen received this email. But still, I felt special that election night.
Four years ago, the nation’s cause for celebration was that the United States had elected its first black president, a revolutionary step that symbolized how much progress this country has made since the Civil Rights Movement. But 2012 was different, as voters focused on other problems, spanning from unsettled Middle East, to the horrible state of the economy, to the deep political divisions in Washington D.C. Suffice to say, it was a tough election. The ultimate result, however, proves that racism, lies, right-wingers’ and Neo-Cons’ continuous propaganda, and four years of endless obstruction were not enough to stop Barack Obama from winning a second term. Other big winners in this election included, as Jon Stewart and Bill Maher pointed out in their comedy shows – legalization of pot, respect for same-sex marriage and, of course, the “arithmetic”. Obama’s win was not only a victory for him, but for the nation as a whole: the progressive and liberal philosophy prospered, social consciousness rose, and the money and politics of corporate conservativeness, religious fanaticism, and cynicism were roundly defeated. Congrats to Obama. You deserve it for keeping our hopes high.
I echo the words of Bruce Springsteen, the famous American singer-songwriter of our time – “For me, President Obama is our best choice because he has a vision of the United States as a place where we are all in this together”.
Now let’s come together to embrace the sound judgment of the people of the United States who nominated President Obama for four more years.