No Time for Change
People have settled into a recession that is more like a valley; you know you have to get out of it but there is no other way than to climb the hill, led by Obama who only offers firm determination to stay with his agenda, as opposed to Romney’s 5-point genie pill
Nishi Malhotra Washington DC
November 6th was a cold night to be standing outside Mellow Mushroom in the Adams Morgan area of the District of Columbia. Hats and gloves and fashionably mid-length jackets were very much in evidence as trendy young students from the many universities in the city hurried into the warmth of the wood-burning pizza joint. The restaurant/bar had been advertising its election night party all day, offering free beer and Facebook check-ins…not quite expecting to fill up its three floors and the bar area completely.
“I’m sorry Ma’am, we don’t have a table…and don’t expect to have one either for the rest of the night,” said the young man over the sound of clapping and cheers that had already started well before 8 p.m. as CNN began calling the states taken by the President. Washington DC is a Democratic stronghold and its support for Obama hasn’t changed much despite the palpably slow economy and the strong Republican criticism of the President in the last four years.
Busboys and Poets, the eclectic bookstore theater café from which a spontaneous crowd had spilled over on to the street after the results were announced in 2008, presented a bigger challenge – the line snaking outside its door did not promise entry even to be refused entry! Neither did its companion bar across the street that had been taken over by the joyful LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual) community – President Obama’s support, although late in coming, had been greatly appreciated and rewarded with votes.
Heading back west to the Georgetown and Dupont Circle areas, we encountered packed bars and dinner tables, slowed down traffic as cars circled around looking for parking – wedging themselves into tight spots, near empty but not silent streets as the sound of televisions tuned to election coverage crossed the barrier of sealed windows and floated into the thin atmosphere.
Election night was not as feverish as in 2008, just a wee bit excited as people anxiously waited for the Romney hurricane to pass through without inflicting too much damage. The polls leading up to election day showed a tight race which was attributed more to the President’s(self-admittedly) taking a nap in the first debate against his Republican contender, then waking up to try and run an aggressive campaign. If he owes his success to anyone it is to the many supporters and volunteers who literally saved the day with a last-minute push of momentous proportion.
Finally, ensconced safely in the warmth of our own home, carry-out food spread on the coffee table in front of the TV, we watched the pundits pontificate on the returns coming in from the swing states of Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, Florida, and of course Ohio – the state any Republican wishing to sleep in the master bedroom at the White House has to carry. The Republican Party has never won the presidential election without winning Ohio and history was about to repeat itself.
Just a few days ago, as I spoke with people on the street about the issues that were important to them in this election, Obama’s supporters cited his kept promises of bringing the troops home from Iraq, nailing bin Laden, reviving the economy by bailing out the auto industry, and offering up an improved if controversial healthcare system. As a result General Motors has witnessed a revival and the poor, in many instances, have been able to keep their health insurance even while being laid off from jobs.
The Republican supporters on the other hand, flowed with the tide of Romney’s sometimes extreme, sometimes moderate agenda on immigration, abortion, giving tax breaks to the rich, and improving trade.
In the end, as CNN called it for the President at 11:18 pm, well before the vote counts had crossed even 60% in the crucial states, one listened for the sound of patakas and rowdy crowds on the street celebrating victory. But no, there was silence – this is 2012 and the congratulations were being passed around on Facebook and Twitter as one status update after another literally lit up people’s timelines; even those who just about occasionally hop on to the social media bandwagon, checked in to write updates that hadn’t changed since their last birthday.
Romney gave a gracious concession speech. As a friend from the Middle East putS it: “This is a great nation – they don’t celebrate with the opposition party burning tires just because they lost the elections – there is a peaceful transfer of power.” And Obama himself, began his Presidential job on the dais itself, addressing a divided country, virtually half of which had voted red: “I may not have earned your vote today but I have heard you and I have learned from you” he said.
There’s a time for change…and there is a time for….no change! Just a time to doggedly plod on in the face of difficult circumstances; that time appears to be now. The economy was bad in 2008, the economy is bad now. Back then, people were drumming for a change after eight years under Bush’s failed policies that increased the US deficit, crashed the markets, rewarded the rich, and increased unemployment. Now, people have settled into a recession that is more like a valley; you know you have to get out of it but there is no other way than to climb the hill, led by a President who only offers firm determination to stay with his agenda, as opposed to Romney’s 5-point genie pill.