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What an Obama Win Means

November 15, 2012 ·  By Fr. Shay Cullen


What an Obama Win Means
by Fr. Shay Cullen
(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

It may be difficult to determine how many Filipino-Americans voted for Obama in the recently concluded elections. One thing is sure, if they have any relatives who are illegal immigrants they would have chosen Barack Obama. He has a compassionate, open and far less harsh policy to reform the immigration law. This would favour a policy to legalize immigrants and give them a fast route to permanent residency or a short route to becoming citizens. Romney took an oppressive stance on immigration that alienated Hispanics and many Filipinos.

He supported a tough Texas law that seemed to some like a jack-boot fascist approach that permits police officers to demand legal documents and IDs from Hispanic looking people on the street and quick deportation if the person was found to be undocumented. A form of racial profiling, some said.

The election signalled that the electorate, at least half of them rejected the Republican position to reduce taxes on the rich. Obama has a track record of greater concern for the poor and the sick. His Obama-care that gives every citizen a chance to have affordable medical insurance is a landmark achievement unmatched in the past one hundred years.

Romney had vowed to support a move to repeal it through Congress as his first act in office. This was his pledge to the extreme wing of the Republican party and clearly the majority, however small the margin, rejected it. They preferred Obama’s steady hand in trying to cure the economic ills that financial deregulation under the Bush administration brought upon the American economy and the massive job losses.

They believed Barack Obama more than they did Romney. The fact that Mitt Romney was video-taped telling a private audience of rich people that 47 % of the electorate were spongers on the rest of America did not endear him to the unemployed struggling poor and those on wages that have not increased in twelve years in many industries. The slight increase in job hiring just before the election was a help to Obama too.

The Obama win is also an endorsement of his policy to tax the rich and challenge them to help create a more fair and equal society by sharing the wealth and helping the poor. He won too because more citizens could identify with Obama as a credible, believable and a more trustworthy person than the rich tycoon Romney. He was blamed for endorsing the same Bush polices that brought economic ruin to the nation. A point that the Obama camp never failed to drive him in the ads campaign.

The deficit, some 16 trillions of dollars owed to foreign nations, much of it borrowed by the Bush administration to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan apparently did not turn the electorate against Obama. The Romney camp tried to persuade them that the spending by the Obama administration to bail out the economy and save the auto industry was responsible for all of it.

For sure Obama has make his indelible mark in history as the first black American to be the President of the United States, a former community organizer, a brilliant law graduate and one of the most educated Presidents ever to inhabit the White House. Yet while not without shortcomings, he has done much to restore respect for America in the eyes of the world and is giving Americans much to be proud of and for others, some things to be critical of. Nobody’s perfect.

President Obama will not be visiting the Philippines on his coming Asian tour, no need since the Philippines is firmly in the American camp. He will greet the new Chinese leadership from whom the US has borrowed so much money and try to make a more balanced trading relationship and ease tensions. He will reassure them that the US has no hostile intentions in the region other than to keep open shipping lanes and promote trader. He may try to get their support in the UN Security Council for sanctions against Iran and Syria. He has chosen to visit Burma, the first US president ever to do so, historical indeed and will surely encourage a return to full democracy, political and religious freedom.

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