The US election result and some thoughts on the media and communications that shaped it.

When Barack Obama rode into power in November 2008 on a wave of optimism, change, belief, creativity and downright sexiness the world gasped.  American politics had not been so riveting since the 1960’s and certainly not as glamorous.  This online ad encapsulated it all for me.

And then reality kicked.  The mother of all recessions and hostile antipathy towards what’s now known as Obamacare.

One of Mitt Romney’s central strategies was, in creating 12million new jobs (really?), he would revoke Obamacare and return America to the most obviously polarised class structure in the Western world.

Obama meanwhile was criticised for continuing the Afghan war and for appearing remote; too much a thinker, not enough a baby-hugger.

He was doomed.

Five things saved him I believe.  Catching, and killing, Bin Laden (in a brave and high risk operation), Hurricane Sandy, Clinton’s speech, his wife and a brilliantly single-minded and principled political agenda that reached out Liberally to the WHOLE of America.

While Romney seduced the white vote with constant appeals to their pockets “it’s the economy stupid.” Obama consistently ploughed his furrow of social justice.

The Democrats are painted as Socialists (albeit dressed in Blue) but they strike me, under Obama, as the world’s great Liberals, balancing vote winning (in the underpriveleged) social issues with strong foreign affairs and a balanced view on the economy; it’s not the economy at ALL costs.

This chart said it all when I saw it last week.  It demonstrated what a danger Romney would be given the keys to the White House (we all saw his ineptitude abroad earlier this year in the UK)

The statistics are overwhelming and, guess what, the only country favouring Romney was Pakistan; default home of Al Quaeda.  World, we got a close call here but escaped unharmed.

Obama’s return to power was anything but certain.  He had to rely on a strong ethnic vote (and his ethnicity unquestionably helped there – were a white candidate standing against Romney the result would probably have been very different.  Should Hilary Clinton choose to stand in 2016 her support amongst female voters may have a similiar effect).  He had to scrap on the streets of the swing states for his life.  He only performed moderately in the TV debates.  He was saved in the end by his sticking to principles but his negative campaigning was far removed from the elegance of the Obey campaign.

This TV ad from last month though was a masterclass in Liberal balanced communication and I hope it made its mark.  There were so many that one will never know and it seems it was the doorstep canvassing that really made the difference.  Obama’s strategy in micro-marketing being better and more energetic.

A note on the TV coverage.  I watched it here, in the UK, flipping between the BBC, Sky, CNBC and CNN.  By a country mile the most interesting, insightful and challenging coverage came from CNN.

The BBC was plodding and boring.

So, America has made a brave, some might say, and reasoned, others might say, judgement call.  At the end of an administration that has see the economy hit by its very own Hurricane Sandy and against a presentable and domestically credible conservative voice offering the promise of a return to “The American Dream” Obama has held on, scraped back into power and given the opportunity to carry on his work, Not only that but The Senate surprisingly remained in the hands of the Democrats.

One major blot on the horizon; the Republicans still hold power in the house and so the opportunity to quash social change policies remains real and present.

One word sums it up again though.

Hope.

I’m Mark Gorman and I approved this message.

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3 thoughts on “The US election result and some thoughts on the media and communications that shaped it.

  1. I admire your optimism Mr Gorman. But as a curmudgeonly Scotsman living on this side of the Atlantic the view doesn’t seem so quite so rosy.
    According to the popular vote totals (so far) almost exactly half of the Americans who could be bothered to vote, voted for a candidate whose extreme political, social and religious views would disqualify him from making any kind of credible run for power in any other developed democracy on earth. And 95% of those who voted for him voted directly against their own best interests.
    I’ve been here for 17 years now and I still never cease to be amazed at the breathtaking lack of rational thought that’s exhibited a huge proportion of the American people.
    What’s truly surprising isn’t that Obama won, but that the contest was even close, that literally millions of people voted for a man who, quite transparently, would do everything he could to make them poorer and their lives harder.
    This is not Europe. European politics don’t apply. There is nothing even vaguely left wing in existence here. Obama’s politics are the equivalent of a moderate Tory with a tendency to cave to his more extreme colleagues when things get a bit rough. Don’t be fooled when Americans use the word ‘Liberal’. Ultimately the choice in American politics is between a right wing party with an unquestioning belief in the power in free market capitalism to solve all the worlds problems and a completely fucking bonkers collection of self-serving right wing extremists- who 50% of the country consistently and reflexively vote for.
    I live in easily the most ‘liberal’ city in the USA but even here Americans are raised on a mixture of propaganda and mythology and live in an atmosphere of unquestioned political conformity. ‘This is the greatest country on earth, all taxes are bad, socialism is evil, anything that impinges on our freedoms is bad’. It would never occur to anyone here that freedom of speech, that great American sacred cow, is pointless without freedom of thought, because everyone says exactly the same thing anyway.
    Sadly I think Obama’s victory has to be viewed through this lense. It’s not great that Obama won, it’s great that Romney lost. We should all breathe a huge sigh of relief that we avoided that bullet. But as long as 50% of the voting population of this country is basically as dumb as a box of hair it’s hard to have Hope.

  2. Fantastic and really interesting insight David. Clearly I see the USA through rose tinted tourism spectacles having only ever been to California, Manhattan and Florida. We see the “highlights” on TV and in the movies and of course on TV we aren’t really drawn into the day to day boxing of detailed politcal rhetoric so I accept what you say. There’s no question those highlights position Obama as a “liberal minded” politician and Obamacare is by far the highlight of that. Thanks for commenting. Mark

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