Going by the aggressive campaigning, polls and “internal polls”, Nov 4 might end up spawning a lawyer’s utopia. Then again, it might well end 8 years of GOP rule with a deluge. Either way, until the race is finally over both candidates can have the satisfaction of being President-in-waiting.
However, this election has seen some big losers and winners already. Some of these are quite apparent, while in the case of others the sands have shifted more slowly. Also, there are strong parallels between these winners and similar ones back home in India. It is pertinent to study these shifts and draw inferences for the way our lives will change in the future. This study excludes potential winners, no matter how high their chances. Thus for instance, Sen. Biden who will become to be the master key in navigating Washington for Sen. Obama is not discussed.
And the undisputed winners of Nov 4 are…
1.The fourth estate
Almost like the Jedi, the fourth estate after wilting under the sustained onslaught of the last 8 years has struck back with a vengeance. Preferences have perhaps never come out this sharp, with channels vying to press home the advantage to the max. And the result- an OD of polls on almost every possible angle of attack, with nothing left to chance. The result of this polarization has serious consequences for the polity. How will the new President (whoever he is) manage the media? If he comes from a particular party, he would owe his success in no small measure to the media, and would almost end up having an additional advisor on his team, a voluble one at that. If the other man gets in, he would face the attacks of a media, which has lost its coveted prize. Either way, expect more muck your way.
2.The Late Rev. Martin Luther King
My first introduction to Rev. King was ironically through the last speech he had made –“I've been to the mountain top”. In the land of the Wild West, guns and Harleys I must confess to have been pleasantly surprised to learn of the non-violent ways that his movement employed to achieve real change. In many ways, the suffering of Dr. King and his people were similar to the suffering of my forefathers as they sought freedom from the British. Rev. King actively studied Gandhi and applied his principles. The Powells and Obamas of today owe their success to the spark lit by this noble soul. In doing this, they are now the light for all minorities across the USA that the country can get its divisive past behind it. India, the land that gave the world Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhi still waits for the emergence of an inspirational leader who can straddle caste, religion and class with elan.
Gov. Palin is perhaps the biggest winner of Nov 4. In 2 short months, she has moved from Sarah-who to Hockey-mom in chief. I don’t go by the polls that trash her, nor am I interested in the value of her wardrobe. Indian politicians routinely dress like the Maharajas& Maharanis of yore, even if their entire constituency is the most woe-begone part of India. She has established her credentials excellently within her party base, and will no doubt use this opportunity to improve her acceptance levels with the electorate. Of the 4 people involved in the race, it is her future which has a richest “Plan B” to fall back on. Perhaps the day might emerge where both the lead candidates are women! The Guilianis and Pawlentys might well sit up and take note of that day, if they have not already. And Mr. Baldwin, you too please.
The fall of the Clinton machine has been perhaps the least analyzed part of this marvelous election. The Clintons gave 8 of the most prosperous years in recent US history. In Sen. Clinton they offered a feisty lady who rallied her troops magnificently when the chips were down, and knew her constituents like the back of her hand –witness her superb re-election effort. With the background that was grass roots, a legacy of service, and a command of policy that her opponents could not match, her candidature should have been a shoo-in. Instead she was undone by the emergence of a rival power bloc which seized every opportunity to out-gun and ambush her march. Any fault, perceived or real was used to bring down a transformational figure. The result is the loss of political capital that the Clintons had truckloads of. The Democrats have no doubt benefited from the emergence of Sen Obama, perhaps the most charismatic candidate to reach out to the masses since Pres. Clinton. But they should also introspect on the loss of a candidate who could have given so much back to the country. Instead, they have the prospect of a President who may be beholden to a group which commands power behind the lines, and who might form rival camps to trip him from within.
But who knows where 4 years might bring ? Sen. Obama would do well to watch out for her.
The most subtle winner ? This is the party of Lincoln and Reagan that has re-defined American history since the time that men got together to sign the Declaration of Independence. 8 years are a speck of dust (an irritating speck at that) in the eye of this party. Who knows what would have been Pres. Bush’s legacy if 9/11 had not come visiting? But then, 9/11 and beyond did happen and the electorate has the right to respond to it. If anything else, this would be the perfect time to introspect and wait. The new league of Republican leaders will find this time perfect to grow and present viable alternatives to the Democrats. The US polity would only be richer for it.