Posted on

Tuesday night was a Bongo Night!


You would have thought that there was an election on Tuesday in SVG, for the loud shouts that greeted Obama’s victory in the early hours of Wednesday morning showed an emotional attachment to what was happening in the United States of America. As an Afro-American, Obama had struck an immediate bond with us as the first black president of a country which the polls indicate is more racist now than it had been eight years ago. The attachment also has to do with the fact that many of us have friends and relatives there.{{more}} Then, perhaps even more significantly, the American media has become part of us, so that we identify and feel what is happening in that country. There were lots of tired and sleepy people in Kingstown on Wednesday morning; one person, a cashier at a supermarket, telling me that Obama kept her up for most of the night.

I felt a great deal of sympathy for Mitt Romney when he made what I thought was a gracious concession speech. That individual who appeared before the microphone on Tuesday evening would have made a much better candidate than the Romney we saw in the campaign, but then he transfers himself into so many different beings and personalities that we still don’t know for sure. His was a difficult task; to win the primaries he had to pander to the wishes of the Tea Party and other very conservative members of his party. Then, having won the primaries, he had to find his way back to the centre, but ran into difficulties doing so. His view of the 47 per cent of Americans, his secrecy about his taxes, his investments overseas, all allowed the Obama team to picture him as an exclusive member of the rich elite, motivated mainly by a desire to reduce the taxes they pay. So he became the ‘etch a sketch’ candidate, as he wobbled between extreme right and centre. So, bad did it become that in the last three weeks he avoided any questions from reporters. He depended on his wife Anne to make some sort of connection with women voters, but a big gap separated her from the majority of women. Anne seemed to have been in it for more, to become the First Lady. Mitt let this out when he made his concession speech, telling his supporters that Anne would have made a great First Lady. Having almost everything that she could ever want, becoming First Lady would have been the icing on the cake.

Romney has become a master at telling lies. He seemed to have lacked core convictions, with his major ambition to become president. It did not matter how he did it. His statement about jobs in the auto industry about to be shipped to China brought angry responses from the company involved in the making of Jeeps. This was the one way he thought he could get around Obama’s hold from assisting with the recovery of the auto industry. Mitt was also very spineless, reluctant to condemn ridiculous positions taken by some of his Republican colleagues that seemed to have demeaned women and made excuses for rape. One of the factors in the elections that commentators have been avoiding is the extent of racism that still exists in the U.S. All this talk about not being one of us and about being a Muslim is to hide this. After all, these people are not dumb and to bring this issue up four years after he was first elected is truly astounding. This is not to deny that Obama had strong support from a lot of white people who went out of their way to see that he was re-elected. In fact, he could not be re-elected without them.

Obama’s major error was his performance in the first debate. This gave Romney a push and shifted things in the race. He came back in the other two debates and won them handsomely. The reduction in the unemployment rates to under 8 percentage points and the better than expected figures for jobs created in October showed that the economy was on the mend and that things were moving in the right direction. This was not the best news for Mitt, who was painted as the one best fit to handle the economy. Then, of course, Obama had an excellent campaign team that spent a lot of its resources building their ‘on the ground capacity’, something that accounted for the large turnout of voters, especially in the key swing states. There was a bit of comedy on Tuesday night when Fox News predicted an Obama win in Ohio and you had Karl Rove and other Fox commentators questioning their own station. The Republican party has to reassess where it is heading, in a period that has seen changes in the demography of the US population and of US voters.

Would they continue to pretend that we are still in the 1950s and ‘60s and not in the 21st century? Their future depends on how they handle this.

(On a closing note, why did Frank Da Silva seek to drag me into his feeble attempts to show why he is not a supporter of Obama? What is this nonsense about my undecidedness in Vincentian politics? What am I undecided about? And further more who cares whether or not he supports Obama – even talking nonsense about his Socialist friend (Dr Fraser)? My friend, get real! This is the 21st century!)

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.