Thursday, 8 November 2012

Obama the Orator: The Re Election of a Comeback Kid

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 I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting. - Barack Obama

November 6th saw the re-election of President Barack Obama, and the return of a communicator reaching the heights of communication skills not much seen since 2008.

During the election, polls showed a disengagement between Mr. Obama and the electorate, yet the fragmented population seemed more willing to give the President a second chance than to risk the future of a delicate economy on Mitt Romney. Barack Obama seemed to display the same comeback kid persona as seen by Bill Clinton during his time in office, and voiced less elaborate promises than during his 2008 campaign. His campaign was also helped by the crisis management of Hurricane Sandy, with his approval ratings rising following the relief efforts. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll demonstrated that 70% of those polled approved of the President's efforts following the storm.

The 2012 campaign was based on the lessons learned during the first term, and on reality rather than promises. Voters seemed to have lowered their expectations for the President and accept that he is trying to fix America's problems whilst wrestling with an uncooperative GOP who seemed eager to see him fail. The conflict between a party eager to see a leader fall and a leader set on a pedestal to deliver change was bound to have negative effects on the electorate. However, after the election result the GOP now need to battle with their image or risk becoming a minority party after losing two elections in a row. Early exit polls also demonstrated that almost 50% of voters blamed previous president George W. Bush for the struggling economy rather than place the responsibility entirely on Obama.

The campaign was an devised to be minority centric, and Obama's campaign team make political history as revitalising hope in a President who had seen less than stellar approval ratings during his first term in office. Voters seemed to be built up of an alliance of minorities, including the Hispanic vote, African Americans, the women's vote, and young Americans. The fusion of these minority groups in the electorate essentially gave Obama the edge he needed in the race. It became clear once Barack Obama won New Hampshire that the race could be headed in his favour, and even without Florida's delegates at the end of the night the President had closed the race. This means a national health care system to be in action by 2014, an act wanted to be repealed by opponent Mitt Romney.

We are greater than the sum of our individual ambition and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states - Barack Obama

President Obama's victory speech saw the revival of inspiring rhetoric, based on hope and unification of American citizens. We saw a performer that we longed to see in the debates, a man who had seemed broken by an uncooperative system and a conflicted electorate, and freed from the electoral pressure seemed to be as charismatic and hopeful as we remember. The speech itself revitalised the image of the 2008 Obama, although the President spent the campaign ensuring voters of achievable goals rather than difficult promises, the victory speech saw the vital return of an icon eager to conjure hope in the supporters he gained, supporters he kept, and supporters he won back. As the President gets back to work he needs to avoid a looming fiscal crisis, and secure voter's trust in the second chance they have handed to him for the next four years. Barack Obama can now join Bill Clinton in the dynasty of incumbent underdogs and comeback kids, and continue the change he began four years ago.

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