During the few months before the next election in November, one will hear all kinds of reasons as to why Barack Obama, the first African American in the White House, deserves - or does not deserve - another term in office. On the one hand, his faithful followers and those who have been won over by his achievements and professionalism, will be right behind his bid to be re-elected. On the other hand, there will be many people with numerous bits of 'evidence' as to why he should be ousted, especially those for whom he can do nothing right. They will be shouting loudest about getting rid of him.
However, not being an American, I do not view life in a purely American perspective. It means I am not befuddled by the usual fears and anxieties that might beset the average American voter, especially the various noises off from the Republican camp. I am far enough away from the action, well across the Pond, to see what others who are closer often miss, and also not affected by the negativity or euphoria that might surround the President. In such a position, one might miss some details, but one is then privy to an extraordinary panoramic view that one is often denied when one is too close to the action or events.
I have been mesmerised by Barack Obama and his sheer tenacity since I heard him speak for the first time at a convention six years ago, but my four reasons have very little to do with what you might hear from everyone else, especially those who are supposed to be the 'experts' on such political matters. I am speaking from the ordinary voters' perspective, one who has watched a powerful force worm his way into our consciousness, and these things have stood out about him since his campaign:
1. His leadership skills. Barack Obama has run a very tight ship in every way: financially, professionally and politically. It is fine to aspire to the greatest office in the land, and to say how you are the best candidate for the job, how you would be ready 'from Day One', but it is not words that demonstrate one's readiness. It is deeds, starting from the smallest acorn which turns into big oak trees. Good leaders prove themselves in the way they conduct their own affairs, no matter how small and insignificant, especially in the way they treat people, whether high or low. He has been a true leader from the moment he declared his candidacy for the White House and during the last four very difficult years. He has been impressive in the way he has managed himself, his team and his country as a newcomer. The calm way in which he has handled the dire economy that was left to him, while overseeing very tricky foreign policy too, show his tremendous management skills and personal self belief.
2. His brilliant team. David Axelrod needs a medal. What a team he has managed for Barack and what a guy he is. By remaining firmly in the background, yet being the obvious powerhouse along the way, he reminds me of the quintessential Englishman, with stiff upper-lip and discrete but powerful presence. He can write his own money now, thanks to the majestic way he turned Barack Obama from a Senator to a president. The transformation is so subtle as to be taken for granted. But what a manager to have on your side. No histrionics, no drama, no upstaging. Just plain old loyalty, sincerity and fervent belief in the President.
His team has worked hard over the last four years, especially with the varying crises, and you can be assured that they are furiously working in the background right now to keep him in the White House. They say you can really tell a person's character by the way they cope with a crisis and Barack's team knows how to handle crises (judging by the disrespectful way the President has been treated by Republicans since his election) with minimum fuss and bother. With such a team in attendance in the White House, Barack Obama can feel more secure, because they know what they have to do over the coming campaign months.
3. His unwavering faith. 'Yes, we can' tells far more about Barack Obama and his personality than everything else about him. It is indicative of his belief in himself, his team and his voters. As a newcomer, to be able to galvanise the youth of America, the disaffected older voters, and even women voters to turn out to vote is a feat that can be easily underestimated, but it was an incredible achievement. To inspire in such a way that others begin to believe you too, to be motivated enough to spread the word and play the pied piper to millions more is awesome. Most important, to deliver on the expectations of his voters, despite the hard times we are in, shows a determination and strength of purpose few people can muster.
4. Finally, his determination and courage. There were times when Barack Obama must have felt at rock bottom, especially with the constant attacks from his political opponents for whom he can do nothing right (the Obamacare opposition, for example), but he never flinched from taking action where he could. He didn't shirk what he had to do, even when it was unpopular, or let it overwhelm him. No matter what they threw at him, he parried it with gentlemanly, professional aplomb and statesmanship. He never sunk to the levels of his opponents and kept his head well above the fray. Most important, he never lost sight of his goal: to get the country back on track economically, and he kept that determination in place even when some Democrats became unsupportive.
Barack Obama, by his amazing historical nomination, and all he has achieved in office so far, would have inspired and uplifted an awful lot of people across America - and even more so if he were white. As one woman puts it: People forget that 50 years ago Black people could not even vote. Now we have one for president, holding his own and dragging America into the 21st century. That achievement can be easily overlooked by those who have not been involved in the struggle for parity. Though he has not been perfect by any means (who is?), there really is no one of his calibre who can match him at the moment. President Obama is a true inspirational leader who deserves the chance to finish what he started. I hope he will be given the opportunity to do so in November.