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Today is a victory, not quite the euphoria we celebrated, all over the world 4 years ago Mr. President! Today was a relief that the worst (Romney) wasn’t quite going to happen. If you want the bitter side of the picture, read the extremely aggressive interview of my former Professor and Mentor, Benjamin Barber in l’Hebdo*….Despite the strong title (Obama is a weak President), however, Ben himself admits that :

Le plus gros problème d’Obama, c’est qu’en quatre ans, il n’a pas fait grand-chose, même si ce n’est pas complètement de sa faute. Je blâme surtout le système politique américain qui a été créé pour ne pas marcher. Sans une supermajorité au Sénat (100 élus) et au Congrès (435 représentants), n’importe quel président aurait du mal à faire passer ses projets. Et encore. Il lui faut composer avec les intérêts régionaux qui obligent ses propres élus à prendre des positions contraires parfois aux intérêts de son parti. Ce système a été imaginé au XVIIIe siècle par des gens qui avaient peur d’un pouvoir central trop fort. Du coup, ils ont parié sur le fédéralisme, la décentralisation du pouvoir avec un Sénat très puissant où les petits Etats peuvent bloquer les plans du président et des régions les plus peuplées ou une Cour suprême qui peut également tout arrêter. Ensuite, nos campagnes politiques sont trop longues. Imaginez que Romney est en route depuis deux ans.

B
Ben at the McArthur park, summer 2012, IDDay

Ensuite, il n’a pas réussi à sortir le pays de la récession.

Effectivement. Alors bien sûr, la situation était catastrophique à son arrivée. Bien sûr, il est parti de loin. Bien sûr, bien sûr, bien sûr… Il a probablement évité que la récession ne devienne une grosse dépression. Reste que ses plans de relance étaient trop légers malgré les 700 milliards de dollars mis sur la table. C’était la moitié de ce qu’il fallait. Au moins. Ensuite, sa régulation de Wall Street était trop timide. Mais c’est normal. Obama est très proche des milieux bancaires qui aujourd’hui investissent massivement dans sa campagne. Et pour cause, il leur a donné des milliards qui n’ont pas servi à sauver le petit propriétaire endetté mais les banquiers eux-mêmes.

This certainly represents as well what Cornel West and Tavis Smiley truly believe…I somehow don’t find it so constructive and thus favour, as usual, the RR approach….you all know my favourite columnist by now, Prof. Renford Reese, not so different from Ben’s analysis, by the way…but focusing on the social divide this election embodied.

I note however that nobody seems to be hopping around, as if they would have loved reelecting Bill Clinton who has made a tremendous job in contributing to Obama’s reelection. The first term you didn’t dare, Mr President, you were consensual and did a couple of significant gestures, but no way justifying your Nobel Peace Prize. Let’s just hope that this time, you won’t be the timid professor described by Benjamin Barber, but the king lion you joked about recently, we want to believe in you, Barack, we want you to finaly deserve it!

With this too long introduction please enjoy Renford’s paper:

Los Angeles Daily News
November 6, 2012: Posted: 11/06/2012 10:49:09 PM PST
Guest Columnist: Renford Reese

Breaking view: GOP Extremism Killed Romney’s Chances, Professor Writes
An unemployment rate hovering around eight percent, a sluggish economy, and a growing deficit were supposed to make the incumbent president vulnerable and the Republican challenger the favorite. Indeed, this election was Romney’s to lose. But, Romney let conservative extremism snatch victory from his assured hands.

Romney lost this election because he began his campaign too far to the Right and could not work his way back to the center in time. In fact, it was his tacit embrace of the negative spirit of his party that undermined his presidential bid.

The overarching posture of modern day conservatism is oppositional. The no- compromise stance of Republicans has proven to be sophomoric, counterproductive, and undemocratic. Ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, what Republicans really think about bipartisanship and compromise—even when dealing with a devastating natural disaster. By so passionately trying to undermine President Obama’s agenda, Republicans in Congress undermined their own credibility. Ironically, this anti-Obama hate has crippled the GOP.

Republicans put their disdain for the president over the public good, which turned out to be a losing formula. Not only did they not achieve their four-year objective of making Obama a one-term president, the backlash to their hate is being seen in Obama celebrations throughout the nation.

Romney, a moderate by nature, got swept up in the intensity of the “anti-” Republican fervor. It was a costly tactical decision for Romney’s platform to so rigidly mirror the base of his party, which is anti-gay, anti-women rights, anti-immigration, anti-minority, anti-welfare, anti-health care reform, anti-global warming, anti-unions, and anti-education. When you are harshly oppositional to all of these groups you necessarily limit your voting pool.

Republican Senatorial candidates Todd Akins and Richard Murdock are reflections of the new unfettered conservatism. Akins’ infamous comment about “legitimate rape” and Murdock’s comment about how pregnancy from rape is “God’s will” are endemic of a callous, insensitive, and out of touch party that has lost its way. There is inevitable collateral damage when righteous conservatism goes unchecked.

If Romney were candid, he would tell us that his base held him hostage. He would tell us that instead of tap-dancing for the Rush Limbaughs of the right wing, he should have charted the same moderate course that he did as governor of Massachusetts. Moreover, he would tell us about his political dilemma; in order to appeal to his base he had to take an unyielding stance against a host of policy initiatives and groups. The more animosity he directed towards the liberal perspective the more it energized his base–but alienated others.

With Obama securing 80 percent of the minority vote and Romney securing 60 percent of the white vote, race politics was palpable in this election. The problem for the Republicans is that wooing only the white male vote is a failing strategy. And as the demographics increasingly shift towards a more diverse nation, Republicans will find it even more difficult in the coming years to win the White House and senatorial seats with their current philosophy.

In September, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham told the Washington Post: “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” Graham is right. If the Republican Party does not become more inclusive and less hostile toward progressive initiatives they will be irrelevant and extinct sooner than later.

Renford Reese, Ph.D. is a political science professor at Cal Poly Pomona, the author of five books, and the founder/director of the Prison Education Project: http://www.PrisonEducationProject.org

* my gratitude to Ingrid Liebeskind-Sauthier, Ph.D. for letting me know about this paper!

PS. I find the summary made by Adar Primor from Haaretz particularly accurate and invite you to read it. Here are some exerpts:

International polls show that while Obama was favored as the leader of the free world, citizens of only two countries supported Romney’s candidacy: Israel and Pakistan

In November of 2008, at the peak of Obama-mania in the United States and across the world, some claimed that the election of the first African-merican president i the history of the U.S. signaled the beginning of the 21st century.
Those holding this vew on Wednesday could have argued that his re-election proves their thesis: Obama is far from being considered “an accident of history”. He proved that he’s not perfect and not clean of mistakes. The Nobel Prize, which was granted to him before he even warmed his seat at the White House was a bad joke. But enter his second term, and with it a chance for desired correction.
On Wednesday, the vast majority of the so-called “world” was relieved. A Pew Research Center poll conducted in 20 countries showed that most of the survewyed wanted Obama to say at the White House. A Gallup Poll said citizens of 31 out of 32 surveyed countries favored Obama over his rival (81% vs 19%). A similar picture was described by a BBC poll (…).
The globe, so it seems, is colored in Democratic-blue. It has only two Republican-red spots: One of them is Israel, the other…Pakistan
(…)The world seeks to forget the era of George W. Bush, which devided the global map into good and bad, “thos with us” and “those against us” (…)
Listening to Mitt Romney, the world heard (the promise to) restore America’s past superpower glory (label Russians as great Satan and place China on the axis of evil ) and when he left it be understood that he intends to solve the problems of the Muslim world by the use of force.
The world listened, absorbed the information, and requested: Four more years for Obama. But id so with reservation. Before being re-elected, the world waved Obama with a yellow warning card. (…) The 2008 messiah was revealed as merely a human politician.
“Yes we can?” Not always as it turns out.
(…) If there is one foreign policy failure during Obama’s first term that commentators like to repeat over and over, it would be the conflict of the milldle east. If there exists tjat aéé eyses are still gazing at with great hope-it would be the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. As far as the world is concerned, Obama’s victory will not be complete if this issue is not promoted. Only then will it be possible to argue that the 21st century indeed began.

Primor, Adar (2012), ‘Israel, a red spot in a word of Democratic Blue’, Haaretz, 8 november 2012.

And the conclusion of these approached is particularly well summed up by Tom Hayden on his blog:

Sadly, many angry white radical critics of Obama may have isolated themselves even further from this enthusiastic popular upsurge. Reading their intense blogging and listening to their rage on Pacifica, one almost had the sense that they there were disappointed in Obama’s success. A quick survey indicates that third party candidates failed to make any difference whatsoever in the elections in battleground states.

I, personally, would rather be the modest left wing of that Joyous Obama Mob we saw on election night than a bitter, isolated white radical packing up my third-party literature. The danger in their greater marginality is rather than leading to lessons, it will descend into a viral howl of self-righteousness.

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