The mid-term elections in America are fastly approaching, and will be the first real acid test of Barack Obama’s presidency. Political Promise will bring you the best coverage over the next month, starting with this introduction by Peter Storey.
With the November mid-term elections under a month away, few people would wish to be in Barack Obama’s position, even if he is ‘the leader of the free world’. Disenfranchised supporters, enthused opponents, minor reforms compared to those promised in 2008 and a vice-president who told a rally to ‘stop whining’.
Predictions have been made that the Democrats will lose at least one, if not both Houses to the Republicans. One would hate to see how much less legislation Obama will pass if this is to be proven true.
The health-care reform bill is a shadow of what it was made out to be, Guantanamo Bay hasn’t been shut down & America is still recoiling from the recession. President Obama is losing allies left, right and centre, with many key White House figures jumping ship, most recently Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of staff who left to campaign for mayor of Chicago. But even figures outside the White House are turning their backs on Obama. Shepard Fairey, the artist behind Obama’s famous ‘Hope’ poster revealed that he understands why Democrat supporters are feeling so let down. Fairey claimed he couldn’t reproduce the same poster for 2012, even though he still supports President Obama. Even the last bastion of defence for the Democrats, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, has recently (and with increasing bitterness) poked fun at the President, with Stewart criticising the President over the lack of progress in repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, the practice allowing homosexuals to serve in the military if they hide their sexual orientation, & over health-care reform.
Even though there appears to be a civil war in the Republican Party, they are set to take control of at least one House. A new faction is emerging in the party calling themselves the ‘Tea Party movement’, unsurprisingly protesting against taxes. Also unsurprisingly is the figurehead of mama grizzly, real American & runner up of Miss Alaska, Sarah ‘has foreign policy experience because she can see Russia from Alaska’ Palin. In Republican primaries, Tea Partiers, such as Christine O’Donnell, have been usurping power from more traditional Republicans. Politics in America is certainly in a state when Christine O’Donnell is able to take the Republican Delaware primary away from 9 term U.S. Representative Mike Castle. The woman who admitted that she ‘dabbled into witchcraft’, believes lust is a sin and doesn’t believe in evolution on the grounds that she doesn’t see monkeys changing could become a Senator. A rather scary thought.
The conservative media outlet, Fox News, with perhaps the most absurd slogan for any news outlet (‘Fair & Balanced’), is riding high on the anti-Obama atmosphere, with characters such as Glenn Beck receiving record numbers of viewers, rallying conservative opinion against Obama’s piecemeal reform.
Beck’s ‘Restoring Honour rally’ in Washington, (47 years to the day after Dr. King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech) was attended by around half a million Americans, with several guest speakers including Palin. In Response, Jon Stewart is to hold a ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ in Washington D.C.; and if that wasn’t enough, fellow comic Stephen Colbert, in response to Stewart, is to hold a ‘March to Keep Fear Alive’ on the same day, also in Washington D.C. The puzzling political environment in the country is not just restricted to the legislature and executive.
President Obama has managed to perform the stupefying task of alienating both ends of the political spectrum. At the moment, the president is in a Catch-22 situation where dithering will only make things worse. The President can either silence his critics on the left by ploughing through reform that he promised (thus further alienating the right), or he can do nothing (and alienate the left and his own party). However, it is too late to act now and so he is stuck on his fence until the mid-term elections in November where he may return without the ability to plough through any reform.
Former President Bill Clinton was still able to pass his progressive measures even though he lost Congress to the Republicans early on in his 8 year tenure and left office with an approval rating higher than any President leaving office, even though he was surrounded in controversy.
Can President Obama pull off a similar turn around? The answer is as clear as mud presently, but it will be made slightly more visible after the voting on the 2nd of November where the levels of dissatisfaction with the Democrats will be registered.