Barbadians rejoice with Obama
IT’S ALWAYS EASY to objectively assess situations when looking in from the outside.
So few Barbadians should wonder why United States President Barack Obama was given a resounding vote of confidence and a second term.
Despite the fact that he still faces urgent economic and fiscal challenges, and a Republican-dominated House, it is clear that Americans voted for a man who continues to typify the diversity of their people, but voted against a man who seemed unable to see any great distance beyond traditional white corporate America.
To dub Republican candidate Mitt Romney a right-wing extremist might be unkind, but being accompanied by candidates with extreme views had done him no favours. For instance, Donald Trump’s tirade on the validity of Obama’s birth certificate impressed no one, Michele Bachmann claimed that “radical Muslims” had infiltrated the government and Newt Gingrich challenged the notion of judicial supremacy.
Truthfully, these were issues for which the most diverse, multicultural population in the world had little time. And, even when Romney’s campaign emphasized, quite rightly, the United States’ economic woes under Obama, there was no concrete indication of a sounder imminent Republican strategy.
The president therefore revelled in his people’s diversity, and those diverse people felt safer with him.
“What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another . . . . I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you live. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight; you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try,” he said in his victory speech.
Exit polls showed Obama was buoyed by minorities, women and labour unions, with Latinos, who made up ten per cent of the electorate, and women under the age of 30, voting for him by an almost 2-to-1 margin. In fact, 80 per cent of minorities – including more than nine in ten African-Americans, seven in ten Hispanics and three in four Asians – favoured him.
It must therefore be troubling for Republicans to have realized too late the error in alienating the rapidly growing Latino vote, and offering a candidate who was even more socially moderate than some of his rivals for the GOP nod.
But what does all that have to do with us in Barbados or even the Caribbean?
While an easing of Obama’s attack on hedge funds and tax shelters, which comprise the bulk of the region’s offshore business sector, is not to be expected, there should be a direct human side to his Caribbean approach, which already includes a far more amenable immigration policy than the Republicans and some hope of the lifting of sanctions against Cuba.
In the interim, most Barbadians rejoice with Obama!