American Politics in the Context of Obama’s Election and First 100 Days Essay
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The election of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States is a watershed in the history of American politics. In a country were blacks were once prohibited from voting just because of the color of their skin, his ascent into the White House is indeed a milestone. Obama’s victory is often attributed to several factors, including changes in voting behavior and public opinion and constant media exposure.
Popular support of his regime did not end with the election hype – a 2009 Associated Press-GfK poll revealed that about 48% of Americans were satisfied with the economic outcomes of the Obama presidency’s first 100 days (Philstar.
com n. pag. ). The rise of the Obama regime had a tremendous impact on American politics. It brought about the prospect of women and minorities gaining a greater voice in political institutions. But Obama’s first 100 days in office told a different story. His first 100 days revealed that the substance of his regime remained largely the same as that of George W.
This just goes to show that in the context of Obama’s election and first 100 days, American politics changed its style but retained its hegemonic and elitist nature. Winning the nomination proved to be a greater challenge for Obama than winning the general elections. Because of a national political machine attached to her and her husband, Hillary Clinton was initially chosen by the Democrat Party to become its presidential candidate (Ceaser, Busch and Pitney 15). Although Obama was young, charismatic, cerebral and self-assured, the Democrats were apprehensive about his lack of experience in the political scene (Ceaser, Busch and Pitney 16).
This weakness would probably not sit well with the American electorate, who were desperate for a leader who could rectify the damaging mistakes of the Republican administration (Ceaser, Busch and Pitney 15). But shifts in the economic and demographic profile of American voters rendered Obama a more suitable presidential candidate than Clinton. As of 2004, about 56. 6% of American voters were below 30 years old (Dahl n. pag. ). Majority of these individuals grew up using the Internet as an indispensable tool for work, study and leisure.
When the Clintons staged their last national campaign in 1996, the Internet was just a fledgling industry. Obama’s youth and tech savvy (he kept a Blackberry with him at all times), therefore, would make him more appealing to the aforementioned voter’s age group than Clinton (Ceaser, Busch and Pitney 106). Obama must have been aware of these advantages of his – his election campaign involved mainly the utilization of the Internet. By April 2007, he already had 1,543,000 “friends” in his account in the social-networking website MySpace. com. In sharp contrast, Clinton only had 41,500 people in her network (Dupuis and Boeckelman 123).
In the spring of 2008, Obama had at least 1 million “friends” in Twitter, while Clinton only had 330,000. Although they had the same number of Facebook “friends” during this period, the website’s largest pro-Obama group had over 500,000 members, while the largest Facebook group that supported Clinton only had 30,000 members (Tapscott 252). Furthermore, Obama’s rhetoric reflected the American public’s disillusionment with traditional political ideologies. His slogan, “Change You Can Believe In,” appealed to voters because it did not bombard them with highfaluting dogmas.
Rather, it showed them that “change” meant exploring for new solutions to problems. The American people did not have to make do with traditional solutions which Obama believed have already failed them in the past. For instance, he is constantly criticized for his relative youth and limited high-level government inexperience. Obama downplayed this attack by claiming that “Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have an awful lot of experience, and yet have engineered what I think is one of the biggest foreign policy failures in our recent history” (Dupuis and Boeckelman 123).
Through this argument, he pointed out that adherence to convention is not always the best for the nation. There are instances when the government and the people must work together and come up with new solutions. In addition, Obama created a firm connection between himself and the people by letting them know that he also underwent their plights. In his campaign speeches, he often used his experience as the son of a working woman and as the husband of a working woman in order to show to the people that he knew how it felt to be in their shoes (Leanne 52).
He knew how it was to be poor, marginalized and to work hard just to keep ends meet. Thus, his cynicism towards conventional ideologies – he and so many other Americans remained impoverished despite their application. Given such a populist and down-to-earth campaign strategy, it was no longer surprising if Obama won a landslide victory in the 2008 national elections. But his first 100 days in office revealed that his regime was essentially the same as that of George W. Bush’s. Obama’s first 100 days revealed the “right-wing character of his administration and the class interests that it serves” (Eley n.
pag. ). If there was any difference at all, it was the approach – Bush assumed a warmonger-like stance to obtain the presidency, while Obama adopted a populist one. Obama continued the Bush administration’s militarist and aggressive foreign policy. Although he promised that he will all American troops out of Iraq, troop levels in Iraq remained virtually unchanged. Furthermore, Obama expanded the war in Afghanistan and even extended it to Pakistan. Worse, he proposed a defense budget worth $664 billion – believed to be the largest appropriation for military spending in American history (Eley n. pag. ).
The prison camp at Guantanamo Bay remains open, despite Obama’s pledge to eventually close it down. As a result, its inmates are at risk of being shipped to US military prisons such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they can be tortured and or killed in secret. Under the guise of “moving on,” he blocked all investigations and or criminal prosecution of parties that were responsible for the torture of detainees in US military prisons across the world. Obama’s government also intervened in the procedures of several court cases in order to deny habeas corpus to detainees in US military prisons in Afghanistan (Eley n.
pag. ). While Obama was busy perpetuating Bush’s foreign policy, the American economy further deteriorated. Mounting layoffs took place, along with wage cuts, home foreclosures and depreciation of real estate value and retirement savings. These developments, in turn, resulted in escalating hunger and homelessness. But instead of creating concrete solutions to put an end to these calamities, the Obama administration used billions of dollars in public funds to bail financial institutions such as AIG, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch out of bankruptcy.
Worsening the situation was that these banks were discovered to have been doling out huge portions of the bailout money to their executives as “bonuses” (Eley n. pag. ). It is very ironic that Obama, a black man who experienced growing up poor and marginalized, would end up perpetuating the repressive and anti-poor policies of his predecessor. But what Obama did reflected the recourse that the US most probably resorted to in order to steer itself from the economic crisis – tighten its grip over the Third World.
It is during the current economic crisis that the US needs unlimited access to the natural resources of the Third World more than ever before. Thus, the Obama administration’s promise of “change” was replaced with the de facto continuation of the Bush regime. Works Cited “AP Poll: After Obama’s 100 Days, US on Right Track. ” 24 April 2009. Philstar. com. 4 May 2009 <http://www. philstar. com/Article. aspx? articleId=460799 &publicationSubCategoryId=200>. Ceaser, James W. , Andrew E. Busch, and John J. Pitney. Epic Journey: The 2008 Elections and American Politics. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. Dahl, Melissa.
“Youth Vote May have been Key in Obama’s Win. ” 5 November 2008. MSNBC. 4 May 2009 <http://www. msnbc. com/id/27525497>. Dupuis, Martin, and Keith Boeckelman. Barack Obama: The New Face of American Politics. Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008. Eley, Tom. “Obama’s 100 Days. ” 29 April 2009. GlobalResearch. ca. 4 May 2009 <http://www. globalresearch. ca/index. php? context=va&aid=13419>. Leanne, Shel. Say It Like Obama: The Power of Speaking with Purpose and Vision. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008. Tapscott, Don. Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.