Welcome back, Obama! This time around, it was not as euphoric as the historic night when the world embraced the first black President in the white house four years ago. But this time, it felt more real. And more promising. For a while there, we were worried. It was an incredibly close fight. The TV debates showed an Obama justifying his last four years, fighting hard for his job. He was occasionally distracted, agitated, even tensed. Although still presidential, something was not right to see someone like him needing to outtalk his opponent this way.
Today, Obama set another political milestone by becoming the first incumbent since the 1930s Great Depression to be re-elected with unemployment above 7.4 percent. It appeared most Americans went to the polls without much preference for either candidate, but, nevertheless, with an idea of whom they trusted more. The majority seemed to be saying, ‘Ok, Obama, you didn’t fulfill your promise the first time, but we’re giving you a second chance.’ They knew in their gut that this man tried his best. That his opponents wanted him to fail.
On CNN, the electoral map was a sea of red when the vote counting got underway. Then this picture appeared on my laptop out of the blue. ‘Four More Years!’ The winning momentum quickly followed. I was awashed with my favourite color. Blue, blue and more blue. It was not as close a fight as we had thought. I waited for the speeches. It took a while for Romney to concede. His speech was gracious enough. But I was not prepared for the speech Obama was about to deliver.
When he appeared on stage, he was noticeably more assured. So even someone like Obama needs the reaffirmation. The mandate from his people. With his Vice-President, his wife and daughters, then alone on stage, I saw a confidence that was absent for most of his first term. Suddenly I saw the President we all saw four years ago. The ‘Hope’ we cherished. And the ‘Change’ we thought he would bring. In a way, Americans voted for ‘Hope and Change’ again. But mostly it was a vote for his character.
“Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.”
He sounded energised and optimistic. What he said was not just political rhetoric. There was heartfelt honesty. I saw the Obama who gave me hope that politics could be about having the courage to change what was not right. That politics could ultimately be about doing the right thing. As with any good movie, there is poetic justice afterall. The good man wins at the end. Welcome back, Obama!