Washington: “I got this” will be Barack Obama’s most famous words. It is a phrase he has used to calm his supporters and his team when they thought he wasn’t all there or having a bad day. He certainly got this — a second term and saved himself from that special “binder” meant for one-term presidents.
Americans voted and despite Sandy’s immense fury. They went to makeshift tents in New Jersey, stood for hours in long lines in Florida and braved innovative voter intimidation tactics in Pennsylvania by enterprising election officials. Razor thin, too close to call and a toss up were all terms that were repeated breathlessly in the wall-to-wall coverage by cable news networks.
But Obama maintained his pace, hastening it in the last phase to reach the finishing line rather comfortably. Women, Hispanics and African Americans voted overwhelmingly in his favour. The coalition was a clincher.
Many pundits had it wrong, especially those speaking from the Republican side. They should not get a second term. In the waning days of the campaign, Fox News, a pro-Republican channel, tried to whip up anger against Obama by repeating horror stories from victims of Sandy. It did not work.
The world is relieved since almost all the countries polled by the BBC recently came out in favour of Obama. A collective sigh of relief could be heard from Europe to Asia. Even the Chinese preferred him to Mitt Romney. It seemed New Delhi was also holding its breath. The alacrity with which congratulatory messages flew from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee was record-breaking. No sooner had Romney conceded the Indian government warmed up the communication lines.
Obama won because his gut instinct was right. He focused on regular Americans — the middle class and the poor — while Mitt Romney dissed them as the 47 percent who didn’t matter. Obama had a rather un-revolutionary message to deliver — stick with me and things will steadily get better. His cool, non-fussy way of governing won him more support than Romney had imagined.
Yes, Obama four years later is not the soaring orator Americans had elected in 2008 but over the past four years they saw he performed under tremendous pressure. There was no rush to rash decisions. This resonated. In the end ordinary, middle class voters decided another term was necessary for his policies to really take effect.
It is safe to wager Obama will govern differently in the second term. He will reach out to Republicans in the US Congress who had made it their aim to limit him to a single term. He will meet and greet more — no more Mr Aloof guy who sees deal-making as alien to his brand of politics. There will be more White House invitations and golfing rounds. In his first term he is said to have played about a 100 rounds and only one with a Republican leader.
He can also try to “earn” his Nobel Peace Prize. Remember the Middle East peace process and the Palestinians? The plate is full.