Barack Obama wakes this morning with a very sore political head. His party has lost control of the House of Representatives and has a seriously-reduced majority in the Senate. What a contrast, the papers say, with two years ago, when he made his famous victory speech and declared that ‘Change has come to America!’ and ‘Yes we can!’ The fear now is that the mad hatters and supporters of the Tea Party will take over in the US and that Barack Obama will be a one-term president.
Let’s wait and see. In 1994, Bill Clinton was if anything in worse shape after the mid-term elections, yet two years later he wiped the floor with the Republicans and was re-elected president. Far more interesting than doom-saying is to remember how Obama first caught the attention of the people of the United States. It was at the 2004 Democratic Convention and his keynote speech was hailed as brilliant. Its main theme was that ‘there is not a liberal America and a conservative America – there is the United States of America’.
Did he really believe what he said? Whether he did or not, his pounding political head this morning tells him that yes, there certainly is a conservative America and it’s coming to get him.
Two other questions which I find have entered my own head this morning and won’t go away.
• What is Hillary Clinton feeling this morning as she contemplates Democratic losses – a pang of despair or a surge of hope? After all, if Obama were to indeed be a one-term president…
• What am I, what are you, what is everyone doing, brooding over results from a United States election? After all we’re not Americans; so why do we show more interest in the workings of their politics than in our own?