White House, Black Man: Part II

09 November 2012

BROTHA in da house, again! By now everybody knows that our cousin from Kilimanjaro has extended his stay in the house of US power for another four years.


Until polling stations closed late on 6 November 2012, we had been made to believe that the race between Obama and Romney was very tight, in fact a dead heat!  However, the final results show that Obama was miles ahead of his opponent!

The US electoral system is very peculiar – the people do not elect their president directly, but instead they cast their votes to elect other people who then elect the president.  That’s right!  The popular votes only help to determine the composition of the Electoral College which is the actual body that finally elects the president. The Electoral College is a process, not a place. It was apparently meant to be a compromise between electing a President by a vote in Congress, and electing him/her by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

The Electoral College process consists of (a) the selection of the electors, (b) the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice-President, and (c) the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.

When people vote for the presidential candidate of their choice, each state chooses the electors. The winning candidate in each state — except in Nebraska and Maine — is awarded all of the state’s electors (winner takes all). In Nebraska and Maine, the state winner receives two electors and the winner of each congressional district receives one elector. This system permits the electors from Nebraska and Maine to be awarded to more than one candidate.

The electoral votes are proportional to the population in each state, based on the most recent census. For instance, California has a massive 55 electoral votes, followed by Texas with 38! By contrast, smaller states like Alaska have only 3 electoral votes. Thus, even if the candidates win an equal number of states, they will have different electoral votes.

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, and 270 electoral votes are required to elect the President. Each state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for the Senators.

At the time of writing this piece, the results from Florida were not in. At that stage Obama had won 303 electoral votes, and if he wins Florida (which has 29 electoral votes), he could capture a massive 332 electoral votes.

So, what do we expect from Obama Part II? For those of us who are not Americans, the changes could be very minimal, expect more of the same. The fact that Obama does not need re-election in four years’ time may actually embolden him to such an extent that he becomes militarily adventurous. In that case, we could see direct American military interventions in Syria and Iran. Let’s pray that this does not happen.

I think Obama II will now focus on domestic issues, such as healthcare and jobs.  The contradictions in the American economy are serious and could make it difficult for Obama to make the changes he so desires. The big problem is: how do you stimulate aggregate demand while at the same time trying to eliminate/reduce the budget deficit (and thus the national debt)? This could require him to increase taxes in order to finance expenditure, but then whose taxes does he increase?  Surely not the long-suffering middle class, or the already decimated working class?

The rich make use of creative financial engineering to conceal their real financial position and performance in order to avoid heavy tax. They have offshore facilities as well, so they can live in America without really living there. Or they can relocate their businesses to China or India, like Romney is doing with his businesses.

The USA is now said to be on a financial cliff, and the big question is: will they jump or be pushed, or will they move away from the cliff?

What compounds the problem for Obama is that the House of Representatives is dominated by Republicans who will surely be salivating at the prospect of “teaching Obama a lesson”, especially with regard to the healthcare program. So expect some heavy gridlock as the opposing parties lock horns in different arenas of power, at least for the next two years.

American politics is quite interesting; at this stage of its development, the USA is still grappling with problems that experts used to say belong to developing countries only. It thus appears to me that the trajectory of development is a circular process: it reaches the “top”, then starts to decline until it reaches the “bottom”, then the process starts all over again.

The Republican Party under the Bush dynasty pushed the country into the economic pit that it finds itself in, yet GOP is now using this mess to attack Obama. Hello? Economies have cycles which by definition are of a long-term nature, so how do they expect long-term structural problems to be solved in the short-term?

There is a lot to talk with regard to the USA. Thanks to modern information communications technology, we can beam into that society and see for ourselves how they actually think and live.The picture in front of us makes me convinced that capitalism is not the way to go. If what I see happening in the USA is regarded as the right thing to do, then I want to be wrong forever.

For me personally, the only good thing about Obama II is that now we have another four years to keep the White House black on the inside!  With the brotha in da house, at least we can show that darkies can occupy high office. That’s all. Apart from that, the system makes Obama no different from his white predecessors, through no fault of his own.

Therefore, do not expect Obama to walk on water or to multiply the fish and the loaves for the multitudes. As Malcolm X warned us, “it’s impossible for a chicken to produce a duck egg even though they both belong to the same family of fowl”.



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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