Moe Sihota: Why the election will make Barack Obama a better president

By Moe Sihota

"I've learned from you, you've made me a better President."

Those were the most telling words from President Barack Obama's victory speech on election night (November 6).

Against the backdrop of a struggling economy and disillusioned electorate, the president had to contemplate the prospect of defeat. In the days following his lackluster performance in the first debate, the polls confirmed that his re-election was at risk. Under those circumstances, any politician would reflect on what he had done right and what he had done wrong. "Fear" as they say is a great motivator. Fear inevitably triggers a process of self-evaluation and introspection.

As it turned out, the president and his advisors were able to craft a strategy that took him to electoral victory. But the enduring effect of the election lies in what the president "learned" whilst he contemplated the prospect of losing the keys to the White House.

My guess is that we will see a bolder, more determined, more decisive president. It started with his election night speech—which was far more inspirational than his rather tepid speech four years ago. The president understands that he must leave behind a legacy which will serve as a lasting reminder to his supporters as to why they voted for him.

Foremost, Obamacare must be that "legacy piece". It is difficult to believe that a nation as wealthy as the United States does not have a public, universal, health-care system that mirrors that of Canada or the United Kingdom. The roadblocks that the insurance companies and Republicans placed in front of Obamacare were set aside by this week's electoral verdict. The president must move with both force and conviction to cement Obamacare into the social fabric of the United States. Just as, Canadian medicare is the lasting legacy of Tommy Douglas and the NDP, Obamacare must be seen as the lasting legacy of the president.

But that is not the end of it. There is space on the international stage for the president to play an instrumental role in two critical areas. First, the European debt crisis. With the greatest respect to the so-called "fiscal cliff" facing the USA, the European situation is a deeper crisis. In today's inter-dependent monetary environment, it is imperative that the United States, Germany, the U.K., and other allies evaluate policy options in a thoughtful, constructive, and mutually supportive fashion. It's apparent that deep cuts to social programs, massive layoffs, and sizable tax increases have eroded the chances of economic recovery in Spain, Greece, and elsewhere. A more balanced approach and engaged leadership is required.

Second, the looming crisis in Syria and Iran require the president's intervention. The U.S. has to some degree distanced itself from those matters during the months leading up to this election. But the president—who has set aside the "cowboy" like antics of George Bush—can be a formidable diplomatic force in bringing peace and stability to these nations.

This is not to say that the president should set aside an aggressive domestic agenda. There is much that he can do to change immigration laws and provide economic security to the Latino and ethnic base that provided him considerable support. There is much that he can do to enhance access to postsecondary education and further the cause of innovation, research, and development so that today's students are equipped to succeed in tomorrow's economy. And there is much he can do to tackle climate change by ploughing ahead with his agenda of clean energy, wind power, solar power, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

This past election was close because his electoral base worried that he had deviated from his messages of hope and change. Ultimately, they turned out in droves to offer him encouragement and a second mandate. The beautiful thing about politics is that sometimes you get a second chance. It will make him a better president.

Moe Sihota is the president of the B.C. NDP.

Comments (10) Add New Comment
dave19
Does the NDP also like O bomb ya's continuing war of terror without consent. His approval of trillions in Bankster bailouts, top jobs for lobbyists allowing the exraying and groping of women, children and seniors at airports, keep Guantanimo open and allow torture to continue,supporting Israel's Palistinian Holocaust,signing of NDAA to turn country into police state,warrant less spying,fake killing of Bin Laden and fake green energy programs? If so I won't vote NDP.
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Plum Duff
Nice word salad, Moe.
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Dave19, were you ever going to vote NDP to begin with? I suspect not. Did you miss the first four years, where Obama was hamstrung? Didn't matter what he did, there was a brick wall of Republican obstruction everywhere he turned.

I'm as disappointed as anyone that he didn't pass single-payer health care, shut down Gitmo, prosecute a ton of Wall Streeters etc. But he played the hand he was dealt.

"Fake killing of Bin Laden?"

Really?
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Just asking
If Dave 19 will take some English classes to improve his skills, I might agree with him!

And if Obama survives the string of scandals since the election, I might support him too!
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nutsnbolts
Pleeeeze go away Moe once and for all....get out of the back room.
This is the very reason many people will not vote NDP.
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Larry & Curly
Who the fuck is Moe Sibota?
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Cool!
Thanks for that bit of writing, Moe!

America has a chance for a healthcare system like ours or Britain's? OK, Moe!

America should work with Europe to counter austerity measures, while it embarks on a series of... austerity measures? Interesting concept, Moe!

The, uh, President should... "intervene" in Syria and Iran? What does that even mean? I guess it could be good... or... ahhh whatever, I'll give it to ya, Moe! Good try!

...

Ummm... Moe? You're not crafting government policy over at the NDP, are you? Not that there's anything wrong with that! Just curious... I'm sure there's a process there that will weed out the kind of poorly thought-out, half-baked, unrealistic policy ideas that you sometimes hear out in the media and stuff.
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Just Wondering
The Republicans and their tea party are the biggest single disgrace the people of the USA have to live with. It is alarming that one-day the people will put down their guard and these self-serving individuals will again steel their way back into office and attempt to destroy the country for personal wealth and control.
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Barney Fife
Bin Laden raid was a fake, and the seal team that supposedly carried it out conveniently died in a helicopter crash soon afterward.
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R U Kiddingme
As a president who is not running for re-election, Obama does have the opportunity to make the changes that many of us hoped he would make the first time.

These changes do not include assassinating people with drone strikes, killing American citizens without trial on suspicion of terrorism, or bailing out the auto companies for their inability to create competitive products.

I would think that as a former constitutional professor, Obama has great understanding of the American constitution and has egregiously ignored it mainly because of political expediency. If he is the man I hope he is, he is gonna use this second term to get America somewhere closer to what it is supposed to be.

There is an obvious save that can fix bloated government spending (the #1 concern of Americans in America) and reduce the American empire abroad (probably a top concern for the rest of the world): phase out the empire.

Write and execute a reverse Marshall Plan in which the US extricates itself from defending (or threatening, if you are a pinko) the rest of the world and scales back its military so that it is merely a defensive force that protects its terrority rather than an offensive one that puts the nation's youth in harm's way in order to facilitate American business, and cynically calls this patriotism.

One could easily project a 75% military cut, slowly rolled out to reduce the hardship to communities currently dependent on government military spending.

He should also lead the way in reversing the effects of free trade which have been disasterous for Americans, albeit enriching the economies of China, Nigeria, and other nations that have taken the outsourced low-skill labour work. Obama should not give a fiddly fart about improving the lives of the Chinese worker. He needs to get the Americans back to work, and making it unprofitable for American companies to sell out their own labour force is a necessity.

These are all obvious things and I'm sure you can think of many more things he could and should do. And I think he won't do them, because America is a big ship and is going to take a long time to turn.
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island gal
Moe who??
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