Socialist Worker

Obama delivered nothing, and now he promises nothing

Jonathan Neale writes on why he was one of the 84 million American citizens who could have voted, but didn’t

Published Wed 7 Nov 2012
Issue No. 2328

Romney lost. Good. I’m relieved. I’m American, and I could have voted for Obama. I didn't. But I’m still relieved.

I know there’s a contradiction here. But if I’d voted for Obama I would be telling myself stories about him right now. Stories that would blind me to what’s coming.

Still, most owners and managers of big and small business wanted Romney to win. They’ve lost. Good. They hate Obama because he did not defend the rich in public when Occupy attacked them. They feel betrayed.

But government policy remains to do what business wants. Inequality got worse in Obama’s four years. The average household lost 5 percent of their income. The rich got richer. Unemployment is higher than under Bush.

The government did almost nothing to stop people losing their homes. In millions of cases, the banks presented forged documents to the courts. None of those people have got their houses back. Obama could have done something about that.

There was no difference between Romney and Obama on foreign policy. I listened to Obama’s acceptance speech this morning, and he promised nothing. He did not mention policy.

Moreover, Obama and the Democrats held back movements of resistance. The anti-war movement wrapped itself up. Some 60 percent of Americans are for withdrawing from Afghanistan as fast as possible. You wouldn't know it from listening to the liberals.

Obama did nothing about climate change. A White House meeting in 2009 persuaded all but one of the major US environmental organisations to stop talking about climate change.

It would not be easier for activists if Romney had won. That would have made liberals and the left demoralised. But believing in Obama holds back activism too.

Harder

Romney had an easy election to win because people’s lives are harder under Obama. He lost it because he was so obviously the rich guy.

But don't forget the non voters. There are 206 million adult American citizens who can vote. Of them, 62 million voted for Obama, 60 million voted for Romney. But 84 million eligible voters did not vote. Another 30 million could not vote because they are convicted felons or not citizens.

The non voters are a majority of people under 50. They are a majority of people who have not graduated from college. They are a majority of people in households making less than $50,000 (£32,000) a year. They are a majority of Hispanics. They are a majority of the working class.

And those non-voters are to the left of voters. They are more likely to support government healthcare, government action and the welfare state. They support Obama over Romney by more than two to one. They favour withdrawal from Afghanistan now by two to one.

The reason they don't vote is not that they are stupid or apathetic. It is that they are not allowed to, or that they think none of the politicians will help them. I am one of them. But when it comes to struggle, it will be voters and non voters together.


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International
Wed 7 Nov 2012, 10:58 GMT
Issue No. 2328
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