Barack Obama and the American Dream

(The Inside of the American Politics)

It is time to congratulate President Barack Obama, for we Americans have elected him for the Presidency for a second four-year term. Millions are rejoicing in his victory and many more millions in the world are simply relieved at the election outcome.

Barack Obama came from a working class environment and he is an embodiment of the American dream. Four years ago, people all over the world greeted Barack Obama's election with euphoria, because by electing the first-ever black person as President, the Americans have inspired the world and have shown that the so called American dream is alive and well in America. Now by reelecting Obama for a second term of office, the Americans have reassured the world that his color of the skin doesn't matter for the American public, and that his vision for the future and his action items resonated well with the majority of Americans. The second term election of Barack Obama as the President has however much deeper significance for America and as well as for the world at large. 

First, just to have a perspective, it is important to note that he is only the third Democratic President, after Roosevelt (1936) and Clinton (1996) to be elected for a second term.

Second, this election has proved the strength of the oldest and the greatest democracy of the world, 'by the people', one more time, and that money and power, after all, cannot buy the American election. While both sides spent millions of dollars, the Republicans spent high dollars with the backing of Wall Street and the Corporate America, and the Democrats spent lower dollars backed by millions of individual middle class Americans. The outcome showed that the American election is still the election by the common people, the middle class, conducted under strict democratic rule of the law, and not by money or power. It is indeed a significant characteristic of this world's leading democracy for other nations to emulate.

Third, it is to be noted that besides fighting against higher Republican dollar, the middle class Americans were able to elect Barak Obama against heavy odds of current high unemployment and a weak US economy – a persistent attacking point for the opposition party. This simply showed that the majority of Americans decided to look at Obama’s long term vision rather than the price of gas at the pump station. The majority has shown more faith in Barak Obama to fix the economy and to take the USA to a better future, than the Republicans, and they simply wanted to give him more time to finish the job that he started. This is a great relief to Obama and to those millions who support his vision.
Fourth, it is significant, and to Obama’s credit, to note that he won the election with the majority votes of the following groups: African-Americans (93%), Asian Americans (73%), Hispanics (71%), Jews (70%), Women (55%), the Young (55%) and the highly educated white professionals, gays and lesbians, and other minority groups. One may wonder which group did not vote for him. The obvious missing group, of course, is the White male. Yes, Obama lost the White general male votes significantly; he received only 39% of their votes.

Now before we jump into any conclusion of racial undertones, let us also note the fact that no Democratic Presidential candidate has ever received a majority of the White male votes since 1972; the highest percentage ever received was by Jimmy Carter (47%) in 1976; and note also the fact that Obama received exactly the same percentage of White male votes that President Bill Clinton received in 1992 (39%). In fact in some localities, received majority white male votes. This simply goes to reveal that it is not because of race or the color of his skin that Obama did not receive the majority White male votes; it is entirely because of ‘something else’, and that ‘something else’ is the essence of the conservative Republican Party which the party is trying to realize.
After all is said and done, the conservative Republican Party is overwhelmingly white and basically Christian, the group that practically was in control of traditional America for the last 200 years, since the birth of the nation in 1776 till about the 1960s. Now that control is shrinking due to various reasons. According to the 2011 census, 63% of the US population is white; 17% Hispanic and 13% black, and with the growing Hispanic population and the influx of new immigrants, it is simply a question of time when the Whites will become a minority. And this election has proved that if a strong visionary leader like Obama can create the right coalition of all the minority groups along with the moderate Whites, the Whites do not have to be a numerical minority to lose that power.
So the conservative Whites need to do a double soul searching which way to go, because that soul searching may sometimes lead to the wrong side. When Republican George Bush won the Presidency in 2001, many conservative Republicans looked at it as their last ditch opportunity to gain that losing control. Many think that waging of the Iraq War, (the ‘dumb’ war in the words of Obama) was in part of that effort. That war, also supported by the UK (Tony Blair), may also be looked at as an effort to regain the lost control of the Anglo-Saxon heritage in the Middle East. The prescribed imperative is to divide the world into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ camps, wage wars, and continue the process by policing the world with military might. One may see here the divine combination of Christianity, Capitalism and Just War (Dharma Yuddha) for the future of human civilization.

The foundation of the traditional America is based on the similar principles that resulted in the bloodshed of 200,000 Red Indians and many displaced. Fortunately, most Americans of 21st century think otherwise and could not accept the Iraq War, and the vision collapsed. Looking at the election from that angle, Obama’s victory this time may signal the final blow to the possible white Anglo-Saxon supremacy under the Republicans.
This time also the Republicans are soul searching, and are in fact swinging in the pendulum. Even without the concept of war, they are apparently isolating themselves more and more from the progressive realty of the 21st century America with their outdated 'conservative' social values of bygone days. Conservative white talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and others also have helped indirectly in Obama’s win, without their knowing, by stone walling the Republican Party for many years from connecting with the common moderate middle class American people and the minorities. If the Republicans are yet baffled at the election results, it simply shows that they are out of touch with the real America.

It was Bill Clinton who as a white did some soul searching and have addressed the obvious issue for the all whites when he said that ‘an America without a white majority is a worthy destiny’. As he put it a year ago to a small gathering of black columnists, “Along with our founding, which was an act of genius, and the freeing of slaves in the Civil War and the long civil rights movement, this will arguably be the third great revolution of America, if we can prove that we literally can live without having a dominant European culture.”
In the meantime, the election results have showed that the Democratic party, under the progressive leadership of Barack Obama, is becoming the progressive Peoples party of the USA with the support of the moderate whites, the minorities and the immigrants. President Obama is ready to move for the future with his new vision. The issues on the table are the tax reforms for fare share for all, liberal health care system (Obama Care) for all, building an intellectual infra structure for educational opportunities for the middle class, a balanced energy plan, a meaningful environmental policy and many others. While the majority agrees that the country is not in its best right now, they also feel that under the leadership of Barak Obama, the country is definitely in the direction and in the right path for recovery.
On the international front, many agrees that Barak Obama is already doing a better job in foreign affairs where he is pursuing a progressive and humanistic policy of trying to resolve critical issues through dialogue rather than thru confrontation, supporting and encouraging democracy with pragmatism, and trying to treat all countries as equal partners rather than the USA taking a position of policing the world with its military might. In the coming years, we are definitely going to see more of his engaged foreign policy rather aggressively. With that in view, it is no wonder that the President has already visited Myanmar, the country which is just opening its doors for democracy. This is what he said in Rangoon addressing the new democratic government, “When I took office as President . I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear: We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. So today I have come to keep my promise promise and extend the hand of friendship.” This is a message of hope and support to all emerging democratic countries in the world. A democratic Burma has lot of promises for gain for India and the North East India in particular in the form of more opportunities for business and cultural exchange taking advantage of a new Look East policy for India that is fast evolving.
In the coming years, we can look forward to a world of less confrontation and of more dialogue to resolve critical issues within reasonable limits. We can look forward to an agenda for democratic base rather than military might. We can have our faith in him. Obama was humble to state on his victory “Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you made me a better president,” he said. “And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever.”

In the words of Michele Obama, his wife, "Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it, and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter whom we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love. He believes that when you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed." She also explained about that American dream, "We learned about dignity and decency, that how hard you work matters more than how much you make, that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself. We learned about honesty and integrity; that the truth matters; that you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules, and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square. We learned about gratitude and humility; that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean, and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect."
It is inspiring to know that a great part of Obama’s American dream was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi on whom he commented thus, "In my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration, because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extraordinary things." The President Barack Obama also quoted Gandhi most recently in his address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “It’s time to heed the words of Gandhi: ‘Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.’ Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them,” said Mr. Obama recently as he called for greater tolerance in the wake of an anti-Islam video that sparked violence across the Muslim world. This is the type of democracy that should be which is not dominated by the pure majority. This is the type of democracy that Henry David Thoreau idealized for, this is the type of democracy Gandhi voiced for and Martin Luther King Jr dreamed for America. This is radically opposite the Republican, the white Christian message who would like to see things all in black and white. Let us hope more Americans will listen to his voice in the coming years. Because whether one is a minority or majority, America has a lot to gain as the world democratic leader from his Presidency; the peace loving citizens of the world has lo to gain from his Presidency from the second term.


More by :  Dr. Rajen Barua

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