A series of gaffes and questionable policy moves have left US President Barack Obama with a mountain to climb to win re-election in November, argues Ryan Bachoo, 22, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Trinidad & Tobago.
At the turn of the year, I remember saying that the US presidential election is Barack Obama’s to lose. Well, it looks like he’s intent on trying his best to lose it.
Up until a month ago, Obama seemed in fairly good shape heading into major campaigning for his re-election efforts this year.
As Mark McKinnon from the Daily Telegraph put it, “In a matter of days, Mitt Romney went from a crippled survivor of the circus-like Republican primaries to a confident, focused and disciplined giant killer. And President Barack Obama went from a larger-than-life, invincible incumbent to an off-message, weakened and seemingly small commander-in-chief who has lost his command.”
Obama has made a few gaffes in the last few weeks that could ultimately cost the Democrats political office later this year. Pundits keep stressing his economic mistakes as being the sole feature of his demise in popularity, but I assure you, it is much, much more than just that. His failures with the economy heavily outweigh his successes with it.
But when Americans take to voting on election day (Tuesday, 6 November 2012), they’ll all be expecting different things from Obama or Romney. Obama has so far failed to persuade voters on his policies on the economy, immigration, and employment, especially within the Hispanic community.
So let’s start with the economy. It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and Obama’s unscripted slip may have handed the 2012 United States Eeection to the Republicans. The Jobs Report for May has confirmed that there will be no economic recovery worth campaigning about for Obama up until the end of the year. That is, providing he gets to Christmas. It is that bad.
The news gets worst every time we open up a European newspaper. Romney has been trying desperately to paint Obama as a big-government liberal who neither understands the private sector nor how jobs are actually created. And Obama proved he was right when he said, “The private sector is doing fine.” No Barack, the private sector isn’t doing fine. The problem with Obama-type politicians (and they teach this in Economics and Political Science), is that these governments believe once they create a whole number of government jobs, they are on their way to unemployment relief. This is not true.
In free-market economies such as the United States, the private sector is the place where most jobs are held. Private enterprises in the United States do not have the capital or the confidence to begin employing again. It’s a reckless statement for Obama to make, and one his public relations coordinators should take the blame for. Before going on to the other two issues, here’s why such a statement can cost Obama dearly.
Onetime presidential candidate Senator John Kerry stepped onto a stage in front of a room full of military veterans during President George W Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and said defensively, in reference to a military budget appropriation he decided not to support: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.” While everyone on the Kerry bandwagon cringed, Bush’s Republicans’ knew they had won the elections. If you’re going up for such a post as United States President, the last two things you want is to be undecided and/or not sure what you are talking about. The statement cost Kerry, and unless Obama can mop up quickly, too many of the wrong audience (young people) will see it that way.
The economy isn’t the only problem Obama has to solve quickly though. As elections lurk, the whispers on his immigration policy are turning into loud questions. When Obama came into office in 2008, he did tackle immigration, by tightening the passageways into America through visa requirements and ensuring those with visas honoured their stays. However, those measures didn’t curtail illegal immigration in the United States.
With six months to go to election day, the Obama administration has announced that it is granting what effectively amounts to amnesty for 800,000 children of illegal immigrants. This move has to be rated bolder than that of his health care reforms. And as expected, it has caused uproar in certain factions of the United States. Obama’s point is that once these people are officially inducted into the American system, will the government begin collecting their taxes and will they start contributing to cutting the national debt.
All good, right? Not quite. On the other hand, such a move means there will now be 800,000 more people looking for jobs on the market. This large addition will have come out of the same schools as natural-born Americans, and more than that, will be competing on a level playing field in the job market. So globalization doesn’t look so in-fashion now, does it? It’s a very difficult decision to make, but that’s why Obama gets the big money, to make the hard decisions.
Finally, Obama’s trump card may turn into his Joker if he doesn’t start paying more serious attention to the Hispanic community soon. In the most recent Gallup polling, his approval rating among Latinos dipped to 48 percent, the lowest mark of his presidency and a significant drop-off from the 60 percent approval among the Hispanic group he carried as recent as January. His failures with immigration reform and major unemployment have frustrated the group. The struggling economy has hit it particularly hard, with the Hispanic unemployment rate exceeding 11%, just two points higher than the national average.
To be fair, there was not much Obama could have done. He had too many burning issues to handle at the start of his term to bother about satisfying his Hispanic support. Now he faces a real test to win over the Hispanic community he’s lost, and to keep those he’s still clinging on to.
Obama will be disappointed with that unscripted mistake he made about the economy, and he should be, especially, after an almost flawless campaign in 2008. He has to put it behind him quickly now though, and move on. One thing I’m sure he has already learnt is the major difference between campaigning for election, and campaigning for re-election. I went down to the horse-racing pool last weekend, and I heard an old man shout after a come-from-behind-win for the horse, “The horse from behind always has the momentum.” Romney’s just about getting into his stride, and I lost $500.
But anyway, this is why I like betting on horses more than politicians. At least when my horse slips up, he can always make me money some other day. But when a politician slips up, he rides off into the sunset of a wealthy retirement, leaving me sitting behind this desk at one in the morning, adjusting the candle light, and writing about some other ruddy politician.
“Hi, I am Ryan Bachoo, a journalist and public relations officer from Princes Town in Trinidad and Tobago. I currently work with the West Indies Cricket Board.
“I am currently working as a broadcast journalist for Cable News Channel 3. I also write on various talking points and current problems facing the world including international politics and the issues of a depleting economy.”
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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