Obama’s Victory and matters Arising

Sat, 10 Nov 2012 Source: Hayford, Kwesi Atta-Krufi

US President Barak Obama has just won a historic two-term office after a bitter battle with Mitt Romney. In the end when it came to popular votes the difference was in excess of one million votes. Obama has proved to be another comeback kid after he seemed to have thrown it away after the first debate. Once more Obama’s victory is setting the non-performing NDC into thinking that two terms in office is a matter of course. Okudzeto Ablakwa has fired the first salvo and i am minded to hit him back for six.

There are three key facts that Ghanaians need to learn from Obama’s victory.

First of all Americans did not just give Obama a second term because they think he or any incumbent president is entitled to a second term. Obama had to make a case for why he must be retained. In the end, he won a hard-fought re-election, because he was the better candidate; the candidate whose vision of America and whose policy proposals resonated with the majority of the electorate. In short, Obama earned his re-election; Americans did not hand it to him on a silver platter.

Secondly Obama won because his opponent, Romney, failed to articulate what policies he stood for besides wanting to be President. Obama carried Americans with him because he made their concerns and needs his cause. Romney and his campaign thought they could unseat Obama simply by spending hundreds and millions of dollars on sleek advertising. In the end, Americans rejected the attempt to use money to buy their elections. People-centred policies, not money, are what eventually won the day. Obama was the people's choice. Romney banked his hopes on money and advertising.

Finally, Obama won on his RECORD. Americans did not vote for Obama because of his race or identity. They voted for him because they embraced what he has worked hard to accomplish in the last four years, including passing legislation to ensure that every American would have access to health care and insurance. He won the youth vote because of his policies expanding access to student loans and educational opportunity for millions of American students. In his last State of the Union address he directed all states to ensure children stayed in free and compulsory education until they are 18 years old. He won the vote of teachers because of his progressive policies on behalf of public education. He won the support of millions of working class Americans because of his bold efforts to save the American auto industry from collapse. He ensured his policies on energy gave American a sense of renewal from pollution. In short, Obama won because he focused and delivered on ISSUES.

The lessons that we in Ghana must learn from Obama’s victory are therefore clear. Policies and investments in education, health, jobs, energy and care for the plight of the ordinary American won him the day. In Ghana, the NDC has proved over the four years that they do not have any RECORD to campaign on. They have a terrible record on corruption and the President himself has been fingered in a number of failed and shady deals including STX Korea, Embraer aircrafts, Cuba scholarship, Amajero cocoa deal and even to a point where late President Mills was in the process of investigating him. They are relying on money, big billboards and tribalism and not policies, which they do not have. On the other hand the NPP policies on education, specifically free SHS, redefinition of basic education and Teachers’ First have resonated well with stakeholders in education. Their fight on the side of NHIS and free maternal healthcare, programmes to create jobs and bring Bui on stream as a matter of urgency all suggest to me that they have more people centred policies that will carry the day.

It is not incumbency that wins presidency but issues and policies that resonate well with people.

NPP has the edge come December 7 on my cards.

Kwesi Atta-Krufi Hayford

Columnist: Hayford, Kwesi Atta-Krufi