Thursday, November 8, 2012

Obama Is Popular, His Party Is Not

A Kadir Jasin
BARRACK Obama’ victory over Mitt Romney for his second term as US President is better than his defeat. A Democrat president may be exporting democracy and idealism, but that’s better than a Republican president who is more likely to export wars.

In America, the victor does not claim victory. He waits for his opponent to concede defeat. In victory, the victor’s tone is conciliatory.

Obama is an example of president who is popular (if only marginally) but is leading a party that is not. But that’s fine for him because in the US presidential system, the president is voted in (or out) directly by the people.
In the British system, which we roughly follow, a prime minister is not voted in (or out) by all the voters. He is elected (or not elected) only as a Member of Parliament by the voters in his constituency.

So, even if he is popular and wins big in his constituency, he still cannot become prime minister if his party is unpopular and loses the election.
In the US presidential system, a victorious presidential candidate can get to become president even if his party loses. That’s the case with President Obama. He might have won the election twice but his Democratic party lost the House of Representatives – the equivalent of our Dewan Rakyat – and barely held on to the Senate.

It’s for that reason that he’s weak. He cannot make changes unless he gets the support of his foes in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
That’s also why in the American legislative system we hear so much about bipartisanism – of opposing sides working together on critical issues like budget, debts and wars.

Bipartisanism In Malaysia?

 IN our country, bipartisanism is difficult to achieve, partly because we are not a two-party system and, until the 2008 General Election, we were used to have a strong, absolute majority government.

Bipartisanism is more likely to happen in the case of a hung Parliament, when no party has the majority. In that situation, opposing parties may get together to form a coalition government – often dubbed the national unity government.
This was what happened in the post-1969 general election and race riot, when Umno formed a coalition government with the opposition Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan). Umno’s partner, the MCA, was routed in that general election. Later, PAS and several other smaller parties joined the Umno-led Alliance (Perikatan) to form the Barisan Nasional coalition.

Points From Obama's Victory Speech

Here are some key/memorable points in Obama’s victory speech in Chicago in the early morning (12.39am), Wednesday:

1. Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.

2. I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. (Cheers, applause.) We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service. And that is a legacy that we honor and applaud tonight. (Cheers, applause.) In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.

3. And I wouldn't be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. (Cheers, applause.) Let me say this publicly. Michelle, I have never loved you more. (Cheers, applause.) I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you too as our nation's first lady. (Cheers, applause.)

4. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won't change after tonight. And it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter — (cheers, applause) — the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

5. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together — reducing our deficit, reforming out tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do. (Cheers, applause.); and

6. I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.

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