Susan's Views                                 
International writer Susan Trevelyan-Syke on politics, media and economics.

Susan Trevelyan-Syke                       


US Election 2012

I have always believed tenaciously in hope and was very impressed with Robert Cornwell's  foreign interpretation of what American voters decided in early voting and on November 6 in her federal election.

What just happened to the America?

The majority of Americans have long felt that the country has been moving in the wrong direction.

That is why they chose Barack Obama as thier President in 2008; he symbolized hope and ignited hope in the majority of Americans.

The Democratic Party won the Senate and House of Representatives without absolute majorities. 

The Senate needed 60 Democrats to meet cloture and had to rely on Independents and a few Republicans who would help to hear and vote on bills.

About 56 of the House Democrat majority were either corporatist New Dems or Blue Dog Dems. 

Obama chose to form his coalition with them and not his Party majority base.

He thought he could accomplish more and they would draw support from more moderate Republicans to write bills in bi-partisan cooperation.

Republican leaders openly told the President that they would obstruct him to make sure he did not have a second term. 

Their acolytes held firm with their policy decisions and the President had limited and compromised success with the Affordable Care Act, the stimulus and other bills which would have helped move America's recovery forward more quickly.

Americans were disappointed and disillusioned by the time of the national mid-term elections in 2010 and the far right was fired up with the success in limiting the President's power to achieve his programs.

Enough Democrats and Independents failed to understand the consequences of not turning out to vote in those mid-terms at a time when the national CENSUS was being taken.

Republicans took full control of the House defeating many New/Blue Dems and accelerated an even worse obstructionism.

How did so many win elections?  Without enough voters voting Democratic in Blue and Red States, the spoils of the CENSUS went to the Republican Party, its Tea Party, Libertarians and
right-wing extremists. 

The CENSUS determines national population distribution every 10 years and then allocates the adjusted numbers to States for selecting members of the national House of Representatives.

Whichever party won the State governorships controlled the levers of reapportionment to the voting districts and could re-draw districts along beneficial party lines. 

Since more Republicans voted in 2010 in the Red States, more Republican governors were elected who could control reapportionment of House seats based on new CENSUS population-distribution  figures.

They could, with great impunity, split up districts to split sitting Democrats and future candidates from from their normal districts and subsume their chances in Republican- dominated districts.

Hence, the House turned Red for perhaps another 10 years,

Hopefully, Democrats might understand what the CENSUS means to their party and its chances in year 2020.

More importantly they must learn what it means to the majority as the progressives seem to best represent then today. 

Democrats must do all they can to use the power and confidence the majority invests in them - effectively.

And the majority must take responsibility for mobilizing for all elections with the discipline and diligence they are doing daily in grassroots communities.

The Democratic Party has better ground planning, but the Republicans have always been ahead of it in playing the tricks of politics.

And we have seen nothing but tricks in these last two years by the minority with its cunning Republican governors crushing unions, attacking collective bargaining, lowering the wages of State employees or just firing them, diverting Housing funds paid by the Federal government to hard-pressed homeowner to pet Republican schemes such as paying down State debt, etc., plus intense voter repression directed at anyone who might vote Democratic - which includes all minorities.

Two standouts in the 2012 election are AGAIN Ohio and Florida who are still counting votes and have numerous court challenges to answer.

Valiant Michigan beat its Governor's plan to fire elected city officials and replace them by his appointed managers in an election referendum.

Scott Walker of Wisconsin got his just deserts for his ruthless union busting by handing the State to Barack Obama and its new Senator Tammy Baldwin - both Democrats - despite having his pal Paul Ryan as the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate. 

Ryan survived by his backup plan to run simultaneously for his Congressional seat as well as the Vice Presidency in case Romney failed to win the Presidency.

If Romney had won, Ryan's seat would be vacant and the State would have to fund a special election.

Enough Americans saw through the Republican tricks and were sufficiently satisfied with the Democrats performances to vote out many tricksters.

Twenty-seven of 50 States voted for the Democratic Presidential ticket giving 303 Electoral College votes to President Obama. Only 270 are required for election. 

Florida's 29 votes are still hanging in recount balance just like its 2000 election chads. 

The President won a mandate for his Affordable Care Act (with the possibility to turn it into a single payer based on Medicare), to cut debt except on Social Security and Medicare to raise taxes on the rich and for another stimulus.

The majority strengthened the President by voting for strong, fighting progressives in the Senate assuring a formidable majority of 53 plus two Independents.

There are seven new House Democrats (number may increase as counting is still underway); they are all progressives who will strengthen the standout Progressive Caucus.

The President will have to rely on his progressive base for support after the decimation of New/Blue Dems.

The base is firm that it will not give way on Republican demands. 

The Republican leadership says it will act in a bi-partisan way, that is, if they get all they want.

Same old, same old.

But is it? 

Progressive Democrats now realize that they do accurately reflect the changing demographics of America - better than its own overly-powerful minority - or the imploding Republican Party which spent billions of billionaires' PAC dollars to win the country and then lost.

And the majority of Americans are sure they are moving in the right direction.

If most of us vote in the 2014 midterms, we can finally make sure that President Obama achieves his goal of being a truly transformational President in his final two years.  He does not have to be a lame duck.

In 2016, we shall not elect Jeb Bush as President.  We shall choose an all-American mainstream progressive.

We shall no longer be blackmailed by an aggressive minority in our own party or the Republican Party, but shall work with them in a positive bi-or-tri-partisan* way to secure their interests and rights.

There is every reason to believe that we can achieve these goals for all of us.

We must be tenacious in hoping and acting.

We must believe and not slack in that belief or action. 

Yes, we can transform America into its American Dream.

*Alan West is demanding that the Tea Party break off from the too moderate Republican Party which he blames for its  disastrous election results.
The best foreign article on the US 2012 Election:

US Election 2012:  The tenacity of Hope

Why America will never look the same again

Robert Cornwell, The Independent, Thursday, 08 November 2012

To outward appearances, little today is different: $6bn of spending has produced an unchanged Democratic President, a repeat of the last divided Congress and, it is confidently forecast, continued political dysfunction. And yet something fascinating and profoundly hopeful has happened, too. Barack Obama's re-election was not only a triumph of campaign organisation and political resilience in an age of economic discontent, it stood as a victory for common sense – a reflection of what America truly is, rather than the fulfilment of a warped conservative vision that contradicts reality.

It was even a good night for two much-maligned bodies, the pollsters and the Electoral College.

The former called a close election exactly. The latter, an 18th-century anachronism, did precisely what it's supposed to do: translate a narrow majority of the popular vote into an unequivocal majority where it constitutionally matters.

Many are describing this as the "status quo election". There are fears that it comes as a mere prelude to a disastrous rush over the looming "fiscal cliff".

Listen to the mean-spirited, but now familiar, reaction of Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican minority in the Senate, which only reinforces that impression: it was time for the President to deliver, he declared, "to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely divided Senate".

In other words the same systematic House opposition to every proposal from the White House, and the same use of the filibuster to paralyse the Senate. Mandate, he might have asked, what mandate?

In fact, it is hard to believe that Congress and the President will not find a safe path down from the "fiscal cliff", a combination of mandated spending cuts and tax increases that will automatically take effect in January 2013. If not, economists warn, a fragile economy will be driven back into recession, amid the deepening eurozone crisis that helped send Wall Street tumbling yesterday. Did not Churchill note that, "We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities"? Surely they will, this time too.

There are other clear upsides of Mr Obama's victory. For one thing, it ensures the survival of his healthcare reform, his defining legislative achievement. Obamacare is admittedly imperfect. But it is long overdue, bringing the US more or less into line with other rich countries that provide guaranteed coverage for all their citizens. His re-election also means that for the next four years American foreign policy, starting with a perilous showdown with Iran over its nuclear programme, will be in the hands of a leader of proven cool and sound judgement, who no longer has to worry about his next election.

That brings us to the most fascinating element of all: How will this supremely rational but sometimes over-didactic politician behave in his second term? Mr Obama's victory speech in Chicago on Tuesday night sounded uncannily like the electrifying keynote address to the 2004 Democratic Convention that launched him as a national figure, urging not a blue America and a red America, but the United States of America.

He must now live up to his words. Maybe, freed of electoral pressure, he will slip into the disengaged mode visible at the least successful moments of his first term. That would be disastrous. Vital issues remain, not least immigration reform and overhaul of the unwieldy and loophole-infested US tax code.

Mr Obama would do well to steal a leaf from Bill Clinton, his most effective surrogate during the campaign. That means massaging Congress, spending face time with its members, cajoling Democrats and Republicans alike. This is not the natural style of the 44th President, but it may be the best way of reaching a deal on reducing the deficit, the problem that almost forced a US debt default in 2011 and created the fiscal cliff.

Had Mitt Romney won on Tuesday, the can could have been kicked down the road. It may yet be: never underestimate the ability of politicians to stall. However a short window – perhaps two months – of real opportunity exists. A blueprint moreover exists, the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles plan that combines spending cuts, tax increases and the gradual scaling back of costly entitlement programmes. Mr Obama's refusal to embrace Simpson-Bowles was one of the errors of his first term.

But the biggest reason for optimism lies in the election's impact not on the winners, but the losers. Whatever Mr McConnell implies, Republicans suffered a massive defeat that extends far beyond Mr Romney's defeat. Republicans now face a stark choice: remake themselves, or risk becoming a permanent minority party.

They may have retained the House, where the Tea Party is the driving force and moderates have all but disappeared. But that chamber is a gerrymandered distortion. Ways have not yet been found to gerrymander entire states which elect individual senators, and there the results brook no argument.

Democrats had to defend 23 seats on Tuesday, the Republicans only 10. Yet Democrats actually made a net gain of one or two, winning in several states easily carried by Mr Romney. In the last two cycles, 2010 and 2012, excessively conservative (and poor) candidates cost Republicans at least five sure Senate wins. The lesson is clear: American voters are not in the market for the far-right candidates thrown up by primaries at which only the most committed vote.

Mr Romney started to do better in the campaign only in the later stages, when he moved towards the centre.

The Republican Party of the future must deal with the real America represented in the Obama coalition. It is a coalition of women, young people, Hispanics and other minorities, and urban professionals. If the white, male and ageing Republican Party continues to ignore this truth, it will be marginalised for decades.

Second time round: Hits – and misses

For the first time since James Monroe in 1820, Americans have given a third consecutive President a second term. Here are the last six incumbents who won twice.

George W Bush (re-elected 2004)

His second term was a near-unmitigated disaster. Iraq descended into chaos, Hurricane Katrina brutally exposed his lack of management skills. He left office amid the worst financial crisis in 75 years, with approval ratings in the low 30s.

Bill Clinton (1996)

His second term is remembered for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But its achievements were notable, including a balanced budget. He left office with a 65 per cent approval rating.

Ronald Reagan (1984)

The Iran-Contra scandal overshadowed his second term. But in three summits with Gorbachev he paved the way for the end of the Cold War.

Richard Nixon (1972)

Nixon won a landslide victory, but resigned over Watergate just 21 months later. Early in his second term he signed a Vietnam ceasefire deal, but thereafter was destroyed by the scandal.

Dwight Eisenhower (1956)

The early verdict on Ike's second term was unfavourable. Much of it seemed to be spent on the golf course. In fact he kept America at peace, and enforced school desegregation.

Franklin Roosevelt (1936)

His second term was marred by strikes, a clash with the Supreme Court, and a crushing Democratic defeat in the 1938 midterms. Roosevelt won a third term in 1940, mainly on foreign policy issues.

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