By Kenneth Mufuka
Letter from America
President Barack Obama’s supporters are saddened by his unceremonious departure, with mad billionaire Donald Trump threatening to repeal, abolish and replace all his legacy achievements. Obama took the thankless job eight years ago, with Republicans swearing to oppose every measure he proposed.
Opponents agree that Obama achieved a large measure of his agenda. The weekly magazine, POLITICO lays out his successes.
Gay liberation was his most pronounced reform. Of the 32 million Americans without health insurance, he registered 20 million. Credit companies no longer impose hidden fees. Corrupt money lenders must display their interest rates. The big banks and the big three auto-makers were saved from bankruptcy.
Policing, which was designed to lock up young black males, was exposed for what it is, through use of citizen cell-phone cameras. The system of arresting small time drug dealers was starved of funds and demoralized. Visa credit cards and Obama phones were issued to the “needy among us” as a way of restoring their dignity.
Despite all these transformational accomplishments Obama leaves Washington on a very sad note. President Elect Trump has vowed to undo his legacy. Obama’s wife Michelle says that hope has vanished from among the people. If you are a person of color, it is an article of faith that the “white working class is returning to its racist roots.” This theory I have rejected.
These achievements came at a great price. Banks and insurance companies outfoxed him; they are larger and more vicious than ever before. The white working classes of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan (auto-state), Wisconsin, supported his election twice. His surrogate, Hillary Clinton lost all these.
A government website in the four states seeks to recruit workers (wait for this) who lost jobs on account of government policy, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The figures in brackets indicate job losses in each state while the second figure indicates Hillary’s loss in the election. These are (78,331)23,000 Wisconsin, (159,252) 11,000 Michigan, (181,017) 68,000 Pennsylvania.
The website describes causes for loss of jobs, namely imports, increased company imports from Canada, increased company imports from Mexico, shift in production, shift in production to Mexico. In South Carolina 70,000 textile workers have been displaced during the last twenty years.
Mill village workers lived in company subsidized housing, bought from company stores, attended churches built and subsidized, sports teams were sponsored, while their children were given the option to work with their parents.
There is no example outside Zimbabwe where people return, election after election, the party which destroys their jobs.
Vice President Joe Biden says that over time, Democrats became disassociated with the white working class. The question then becomes, how was it viewed? Obama had been careful not to inflame race wars, but “Black Lives Matter” exacerbated the issue of police brutality. As I write, four black youths are in custody in Chicago for beating up a disabled 16 year old boy and forcing him to say these words. “I love black people. I hate Trump.”
His gay agenda, in the eyes of his opponents, became his justification for being. The simplest explanation is usually the best; Obama allowed his trade union base, the white working class to be downtrodden by the corporations he had rescued. Its membership is half (12 percent) what it was ten years ago.
Racists claimed that Obama could not have written his autobiography. The syntax and linguistic fluidity was beyond that of a Negro’s capacity. Radio talk host Rush Limbaugh suggested that Barak Hussein Obama was underneath the surface a Muslim. General Collin Powell replied. There is no disgrace in being an American Muslim. True, Donald Trump joined the “birther” bandwagon, saying Obama was born in Kenya.
Blacks do not allow the fact that the “birther” movement originated with Hillary Clinton. Another word, “exotic” was also used to describe Obama. South Carolina Joe Wilson disrespected Obama during a state of the union address. “You lie,” he shouted. Blacks do not want to be reminded that Wilson’s wife, seating in the people’s gallery, shouted back: “Who is that fool, who shouts at the president?”
Democrats cannot swallow the pill of rejection. The racist Southern states did not vote for Obama in the first instance, except North Carolina. Hillary lost that state by the same margin he had won it, 20,000 plus votes.
US Intelligence Agencies combined report: “Russian activities and intentions in recent US elections,” says that “Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 at the US presidential election. We further assess Putin …developed a clear preference for president Elect Trump. We assess with high confidence that Russian intelligence …relayed material to Wikileaks.”
There is something very African about Obama’s attempt to write his own obituary. He told his biographer, Brother Ta-Nehisi Coates, that his programs, “effective and proportionately beneficial to the black people, don’t speak to the sense of injustice and self doubt that arises from the fact that (black people) are behind now, and feel that there must be something wrong with us.”
Coates rejects that premise, and reiterates the racist narrative. “The large number of black men in jail is not the result of policy, but of not seeing those men as human.”
Obama’s legacy is now in the hands of rambunctious mad billionaire Trump. Trump cursed out Congressional leaders as “weak and ineffectual” and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, as clown in chief.
Case against Obama
The case against Obama is set in two parts. Republicans say that the USA has a duty to lead the world, and to dictate what Middle East countries shall do with their oil reserves. This is part of the Post World War 11 Pax Americana.
Obama rightly observed that since the Muslim world cannot be reconciled to western ethos, such as the equality of women, gay freedoms and freedom of speech, such policies required perpetual occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq and significant presence in Yemen and North Africa.
Withdrawing US presence, however, opened these countries to Islamic extremism, which affected Europe and the US itself. Obama may have assumed too much about the readiness of Libya, Egypt and iraq’s ability to assume democratic institutions. Dictatorship was a more familiar posture.
At home, insurance companies totally outfoxed Obama. Obama’s aim, to provide health insurance for 32 million was commendable. Insurance companies took US treasury money, yet doubled or tripled premiums for those who could pay. Average family premiums rose from $1,200 to $1,700 per month. In addition, while the poor now enjoyed coverage; 10 million middle class families experienced a rise in deductibles, averaging from $2,000 to $10,000. Brother Obama, with a professorial attitude towards charity was unable to comprehend the anger aroused by his trade mark accomplishment.
Announcements in premium increases (sometimes doubling) and deductibles came 30 days before elections. The accusation is that Obama had forced middle income earners to pay for health benefits which were enjoyed by the poor. Republicans called it socialism.
Obama need not worry too much about his legacy. His greatest accomplishment is that people of color are no longer excluded from the highest office in the land. His cool attitude illustrated for future presidents that the Middle East is the death pit of all empires. It either corrupts the occupier, or swallows the occupier in endless religious matrices, or simply enfeebles the occupier. The Romans, the Greeks and the Russians before them suffered similar fates.
Even Obama’s health care law cannot be undone as easily as Trump says. By undoing it, Trump may get the support of 10 million but will lose the support of 20 million beneficiaries. Either way, Trump will get the same difference, half a dozen or six eggs.
Obama made Hillary’s defeat his own. Defeat is always painful. George Herbert Bush, Sr. suffered a mental depression when he was defeated by Bill Clinton, a man he described as a “bozo, a self-confessed draft dodger,” and a man with 22 sex-assault cases awaiting his reply. Democracies are messy.
Obama’s cool attitude, reluctance and caution will in future be compared to the brush mad New York billionaire who is likely to bog himself in the Middle East sands in no time at all. The foolish always think they can do what their predecessors were unable to accomplish. So did Napoleon and Hitler believe that they could conquer Russia. As I write, Obama has received some support from former president George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, James Baker. Baker says Trump’s rush to be Israel’s lawyer means that the US is now a partner in Middle East squabbles rather than a referee. Surely a mad man tramples where angels fear to tread.