Week 47: Hero – Barack Obama

by Charlie_East_West on November 23, 2014

US_Hero

Our award for hero of the week goes to Barack Obama for a hugely progressive announcement on immigration, and in the process, tactically outflanking the Republicans.

To paraphrase an often used and well worn phrase – Reports of the political death of Barack Obama are greatly exaggerated.

After a calamitous set of midterm election results, it appeared that Barack Obama would see out his days in the White House as a lame duck President – spending an increasing amount of his presidential incumbency focusing towards playing basketball, golf and seeking future real estate in a post-presidential gated community in Florida.

Barack Obama was beginning to give off the jaded impression of an almost de-mob happy President counting down the days until he could leave behind the frustrations of politcal stalemate on Capitol Hill and replace it with lecture tours, book signings and the opening of the invitable Obama Foundations in Hawaii and Chicago.

But, Obama is made of stronger stuff than all of that. This week he became a worthy winner of our hero of the week award for his announcement that he will use his presidential powers to allow illegal immigrants with American children to work and pay taxes legally. This intervention in the face of huge right wing neoliberal opposition once again shows what a remarkable President he is. He consistently shows enough considered bravery to face down the Republicans on issues ranging from the fiscal cliff negotiations, healthcare coverage for low income Americans and renewable energy – as well has implementing a set of measures that have effectively turned round the USA economy from a 2008 basket case to one of the few economies showing real and sustained growth over 3%.

His conviction on immigration also tactically outflankes the Republicans. It offers the Democrats a potential blocked vote of increased new voters at future elections. It is difficult to see how the Republicans can respond in a way that will be seen as either tactically astute or with the potential for developing vote winning messages to appeal to ever increasing numbers of immigrants in the US.

Obama’s positioning on immigration reform is dispiriting in only one aspect – His conviction over this issue shows what is sadly missing in the UK. Our sorry little island appears to be lurching in the opposite direction on immigration. UKIP appear to be setting the agenda and Labour and the Tories are following their nasty little Englander agenda like a bunch of lost sheep.

Obama hit the nail on the head when he stated, “are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” – he addressed the needs of millions of illegal immigrants living in daily fear of deportation. It was a hugely progressive moment. It was an equally impressive moment from a President, who, when playing post-presidential golf in Florida and when history decides to judge him, will likely judge him extremely favourably.

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