It is entirely possible that this coming election day President Barack Obama will surprise everyone, even those of the current 54% who do NOT want him to win. It is possible that on January 1, 2013, President Obama will be studying drafts of his Second Inaugural Address, for delivery three weeks later. My crystal ball is alternately cloudy and wispy these days. I don’t have an Ouija Board. The signs in the stars are contradictory.
Still, as far as I can see, a year from now Barack Obama will once again be unemployed. Of course, he will still have his luxurious multi-hundred-thousand dollar mansion which certain dubious Chicagoans have bestowed on him, and his dear wife Michelle (who has captured many hearts her husband has not) will go back to her $350,000 job with the hospital she had a contract with before – or perhaps something much more attractive. There will be people offering top-top dollar for the services of her and her husband, too.
The whole country may rejoice that the Obamas have rejoined the top one percent of income-earners in the nation. The very one percent the President has spent the last two years vilifying as the enemies of the people, for not “paying their fair share.” (Actually, that one percent pays more than 20% of all income taxes paid. Obama refuses to say how much more is "fair.")
The President has spent most of the last 12 months campaigning for his reelection. He has not spent it, except occasionally, in presidential leadership -- over the Congress, for instance. There are hundreds of Congressmen of both parties who have never, ever received a phone call from him, let alone been invited to the White House.
Obama loves campaigning, he does not much enjoy governing. Even as a state senator in Illinois and as a U.S. Senator, he seldom cast a vote, and even when he did it was often marked “abstain.” He seems to have an aversion to making commitments. But he does love the overheated rhetoric of campaigning, creating straw-man Republicans "who want dirty water, dirty air, and pushing the elderly on wheelchairs over the cliff." He seems to see himself as a lone hero fending off dreadful monsters who want to prey on old people and the poor.
The two groups that supported the President most heavily in 2008, those ages 21-29 and the independents, now mostly want to see him defeated. Even his approval among blacks is down ten points. That last alone is enough to lose him the electoral votes of some states.
The American electoral system is not “majority vote.” The American system takes precautions against “the tyranny of a majority,” and protects the smaller states from total domination by the states with huge urban populations. In the Republic of the United States, “the people” do not directly elect a president – “the people” do almost nothing directly. Powers are systematically divided against each other, and rendered indirect as much as is feasible. The reason for this is a profound American belief in original sin: Every human being sometimes sins – therefore, trust no one with unchecked power, not even an unchecked national majority.
The impact of this system in 2012 is that it is very hard to see how Obama can win the top ten most hotly contested states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Without them it is all but impossible for him to win the electoral college.
Even in public opinion polls, a year before the election, some 54% of Americans do NOT want Obama elected again. Very few if any can say they are as well off – or the country is as well off – as four years ago. With the dramatic drop in investment values, even the millionaires have seen their fortunes sink by as much as one third. Correspondingly, tax receipts by the governments, state and federal, are also down. Counting those who have given up looking for work – total employment is down about 2.5 million workers under Obama – serious scholars estimate that the real unemployment rate in the country now exceeds 20%.
Thus, some see a certain justice in adding Obama to the ranks of the unemployed. No recent President, inheriting a recession (which ended months after he took office) has ever kept the country as low as he found it – in Obama’s case, lower – by economic fantasies. Not Reagan, not Clinton, not the second Bush. Not since Carter in 1977-80 has the economy lost so much ground under one President.
In addition, it is highly likely this time, as opposed to four years ago, that candidate Obama will not have the endorsement of Osservatore Romano.
Look at the bright side. In the American Midwest there is an apocryphal newpaper which never prints bad news. For example, The Euphoria (Kans.) Gazette never reports "higher unemployment." Instead, it reports “increased leisure time.” For a majority of Americans, it seems today, that however the actual vote may turn out next November 6, it will be just and fitting if, shortly after one year from today, Barack Obama has “increased leisure time.”
Published in the Italian Daily Liberal, January 1, 2012