7 Nov 2012

Obama triumphs – but tough times ahead

Revellers outside the White House. Romney’s concession speech on the radio. I came past the presidential home just after emerging from the Republican national headquarters in Washington as the band played the last chords. President Obama is President Obama. He has won his second term.

It has been a close run thing. His majority in many states fell but never by quite enough to help Romney. It is a devastating blow for the Republicans – increasingly white, southern, evangelical and shrinking.

But an elegant concession from Romney. Obama won the key state of Ohio by a significant margin and locked a whole lot of others in behind. But this is not 2008. The euphoria is not accompanied either by much romance or much hope.

These are tough times. Although the Democrats have won the Senate with more women and a slightly more governable majority than before, the House of Representatives remains in the hands of the Republicans with a strong majority.

So we are left with all the ingredients of gridlock. The Tea Party element of the Republicans have about sixty Congressional members.

I witnessed the moment Obama’s victory was projected, at Howard University. This was the same place I witnessed his first victory in 2008. Howard is the respected seat of African-American higher education.

We were in a crammed hall with a thousand students. When victory came, they sang, they danced, they leapt about, but I saw no tears. Four years ago they all wept – tears of relief that a black American could win at all. This time around many are chastened by the scale of the job ahead.

An exhilarating night. A remarkable night, but one that makes one wonder what new Obama can bring to change the dynamic in this country and beyond.

I’ll try to gather more thoughts as the night unfolds and blog again in the cold light of day.

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