Opinion | Columnists

There are reasons to be hopeful about an Obama second term

Life is not measured by the number of fulfilled wishes, but by principles, ideas and values that we adopt and advocate and the US president has this belief

  • By Mohammad Hassan Al Harbi, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 November 27, 2012
  • Gulf News

US President Barack Obama’s election victory earlier this month was expected for many reasons. There are several factors that made Obama’s victory inevitable, including his domestic agenda, which intersect with the aspirations of the middle class, workers and university students.

According to official statistics, the voter turnout reached more than 50 per cent, concentrated in the three afore-mentioned sectors, in addition to women, whose presence was remarkably manifested to the advantage of Obama in the last election.

The second factor for Obama’s victory is that the president has fulfilled most of the promises he made during his first term, except the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which Obama promised to close during his 2008 campaign. Four years later, Guantanamo remains open.

According to some observers, the third factor for Obama’s overwhelming success was the poor performance of his rival Mitt Romney — a performance that was not expected by the Republican Party. For these and many other factors, the White House will remain Democratic for a second term of four years.

In his first election success, the American political community considered that it “lost Obama as a brilliant political writer, but won him as an eloquent and honest president”.

Obama was as expected by more than half of American voters during his first term, and will be in the second term, as he promised in his victory address. He promised “the best is yet to come” and said the fierce battle with Romney had made him a better president, vowing: “I will return to the White House more determined and inspired than ever”.

Obama gave two speeches. First, the passionate speech he delivered in Ohio on the eve of the election, in which he urged Americans to elect him and support him. The second speech, called the “victory speech”, was delivered in Chicago as Obama addressed the nation after winning the election.

In both his speeches, Obama seemed a brilliant, confident and persuasive orator, who chose his words carefully and his performance was amazing. The audience, therefore, both inside and outside the halls, where impressed with Obama’s passionate and rhetorical words.

Apart from political reading, both speeches are characterised by intellectual, political and cultural deepness and richness and hence they should be translated into world languages, especially Arabic, so that Arab officials and future leaders can learn from them.

Important lessons can be drawn from Obama’s speeches, among which is how Arab leaders can address their nations in historical moments, so as to elevate their morale and spirit. focusing on topics and issues that top the priorities of their people.

The other issue is how to set a strong role model of leaders, who are confident of a better future in line with the state’s strategic vision and aspirations of the people.

Moreover, the two speeches should be included in the American school curricula, because they are historical speeches similar to those delivered by pioneering US political leaders and intellectuals, such as former president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), who had unified America and abolished slavery. Martin Luther King, another great symbolic leader and civil rights activist, American clergyman and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, who is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using non-violent civil disobedience.

Another unforgettable leader is the Indian advocate of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), who became the strongest symbol of non-violence in the 20th century.

These leaders are the ones who awakened, inspired and motivated their people and nations to work hard and contribute to the development of their countries.

Obama is an exceptional historical leader. He emerged as a leader as a result of his rich life experience that combined two cultures as well as suffering.

He has not emerged out of any political and ideological vacuum. Certainly, he will not end his second term without a resounding change that will erase many negative aspects prorating America’s image abroad.

Obama will gain more respect and hence the US will be more respected — not only by its allies, but also by others classified as anti-Americans, with regard to certain issues and interests.

Life is not measured by the number of fulfilled wishes, but by principles, ideas and values that we adopt and advocate and Obama has this belief.

The question arises here as to who will succeed Obama after four years?

This question stems from a well-known fact that it is very difficult to find a new leader to take over after an exceptionally charismatic personality. Hence, anyone who succeeds a charismatic leader needs to double his or her efforts in order to be able to rise to the level of those unforgettable leaders.

This happened in many countries. It happened in America, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy; in Egypt, after the death of Jamal Abdul Nasser; as well as in Cuba, after Fidel Castro’s retirement; in France, after the death of General De Gaulle. It also happened in India after the death of Mahatma Gandhi and in South Africa, after retirement of Nelson Mandela.

In this context, there are two things that make one feel reassured. First, the institutional state has always been driven by strategic and clear long-term plans, thus anyone who takes office will be able to safely pilot the ship even if he is not as strong as his predecessor.

Second, as long as modern cities are able to maintain their values and the evolution of their social, intellectual and political elites, they will remain capable of generating historic political leaders

Mohammad Hassan Al Harbi is a writer and journalist.

Gulf News

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