Obama and the billions

RAMÓN SÁNCHEZ-PARODI MONTOTO

THIS past April 4, Barack Obama formally announced his candidacy for the presidential elections scheduled, as established, within 20 months; that is to say for November 6, 2012. This step opens the election process for the person who will take office as U.S. president on January 20, 2013.

The announcement did not come as any surprise, it was anticipated. Obama has no opponent within his party, as no other Democratic Party member is considering campaigning for the presidential candidacy. Obama did not even make a personal appearance, just a video announcement on the Internet.

The current U.S. president’s reason for formalizing his aspiration at such an early stage has nothing to do with political strategy or placing himself in the running against opposition candidates. Nobody is opposing him among the Democrats and there could be more than a dozen Republicans harboring the dream of taking up residence in the White House from 2013 through 2017. Obama has more than enough time to enter the electoral ring.

The real objective of this move is related to money. According to many political analysts, Obama has set himself the challenge of raising and spending the astronomical figure of one billion dollars in order to be reelected president of the United States. If he and his election team achieve this objective, perhaps the Nobel Prize jury panel be inspired to award him, if not the Nobel Peace Prize, at least a gold medal in Economy, given that he will have established another new record for money spent on an electoral campaign.

Money, and not democratic values, political ideas, or efforts to benefit the people and humanity, is more and more the priority in the minds and functioning of politicians in the two major U.S. parties. That one billion is just what Obama proposes to spend on his reelection. The total figure that will be spent in the 2012 U.S. election process would be inconceivable for any of the close to seven billion human beings who inhabit the planet. If one adds the expenditures of other presidential candidates, those of the hundreds of aspirants running for 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and the dozens contesting the 33 U.S. Senate seats, or the 11 state governorships, and the thousands bidding to be legislators in state assemblies, or to become mayors or council members in cities and towns, the figure would be in excess of the gross domestic product of majority of the world’s nations.

The announcement by Obama’s campaign was necessary given the need to formalize his aspiration with the Federal Election Commission, an obligatory step in raising funds for his campaign team. The date of the announcement coincided with the beginning of the 2011 second fundraising quarter, in line with existing regulations. Obama has already organized fundraising visits to his principal bases in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

On the other hand, Jim Messina, Obama’s current campaign organizer, has been touring the country to coordinate efforts. According to the media, he already has commitments to the tune of at least $350,000 each from 400 donation raisers (bundlers in U.S. electoral speak), assuring him $140 million this year.

The 2012 election presents a totally different panorama for Obama. He is no longer the almost unknown Senator of 2008. His is a household name and has the major advantage of being the current president with no challenger in sight within the Democratic Party and there is much division among possible opponents within the Republican Party. He cannot be the candidate of “change,” as in 2008; in any event, he will have to present himself as the candidate of “continuity.”

It is still very early in the campaign for any assessment of the course of the process, but at this point there are serious conflicts worrying the nation. To cite just a few: economic recovery has still not begun, unemployment levels remain very high, signs of economic recovery are fragile and unstable, there are fierce debates in relation to healthcare and the need to reform the education system, the development of a rational and sustainable energy policy, social security requirements, the housing crisis and immigration. These are compounded by military wars, like the still unresolved one in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan and the latest on Libya.

Obama is not lacking in problems but, with his one billion dollars, he could say to himself: “Money in my pocket so things aren’t so bad.”

Translated by Granma International

 

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