Obama: A Captive President

802 views Published on 21st March 2016

America is one of the most difficult countries to rule because it is polarized on many fronts: economically, politically, racially, culturally. Any president would find it difficult to govern. It is difficult to govern and accomplish much when a segment of the democratic coalition (the Republican Party) deliberately sets out to obstruct you from accomplishing your goals.They have never or rarely done this to any other President in living memory. Because of the intense obstruction, they go on to still accuse you of not doing enough to govern the country and to deliver, knowing that you did not win the presidency to fulfill their conservative agenda or pander to their whims.

One of the reasons why Obama has been overwhelmingly obstructed is because of his race. There is hatred, punitiveness, jealousy and ideological irreconcilability that fuels the Republican wheels against Obama.

There is also a coterie of black intellectuals represented by Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Ajamu Nangwaya, those in the Black Agenda publication and others who also perceive that Obama has done nothing or very little for his people. These intellectuals, like white critics, forget that Obama is the president of all of America and cannot do everything for everybody. He was not elected to fulfill their self-perceived narrow agenda. Every president can do a little bit more on many areas but there are just so many competing interests to be accomplished.

Obama's predisposition has also been an alienating factor. He is given to too much compromise with the enemy which doesn't reciprocate or compromise. Obama has been sold down by his desire to compromise. He could have done much more for African Americans, the Middle Class, the Social Justice constituency and foreign allies if he stood up much more defiantly to the Republican bullies than he did, especially in the first term when he still had a lot more political capital and had control of both houses of congress. Obama calculated that he could get more accomplished by compromising than bulldozing. History will judge this calculus.

Obama was obstructed on releasing the Guantanamo prisoners, the health care agenda, the foreign policy trajectory, massive criminal justice reform, immigration reform and so many other areas.

The critics from the left and especially from Black intellectuals, must really ponder whether their vehement criticism can still hold water in the light of Republican opposition to Obama's nomination of a Supreme Court justice to replace the deceased Antonin Scalia. The Republicans didn't care about who he was going to nominate or his qualifications. It could even have been Jesus Christ as a nominee, they didn't want Obama to nominate anyone. These are the same hypocrites who were accusing Obama of violating constitutional norms, an unfounded baloney, but when he is following the constitution, they say he cannot do it because the people have to speak first. But people have spoken twice endorsing him as President of the United States of America.

The answer to the critics on the left and to Black intellectuals about why Obama allegedly did not do enough for Blacks or the Social Justice Constituency is found in the insane opposition by the Republicans to Obama's chance to nominate a Supreme Court replacement. That is how precarious Obama's presidency has been held by the Republicans. He has been held hostage, for simply having won that presidency as a Black man, just like Haiti was made to pay a hefty price by France for daring to liberate itself from Slave and colonial bondage in 1804.

The Republican obstruction is not the only explanation here, Obama has always been given to compromise. That is how he became the first Black President of the Harvard Law Review and the President of the Untied States of America.

Here is the irony, despite the gargantuan opposition and obstruction to the Obama presidency by the Republican coalition, Obama has accomplished more of his agenda and induced more positive pro-America vibes in the rest of the world than just any American President in centuries. Now imagine if he didn't face that deliberate, racist and vengeful vindictiveness by the Republican Party and its counterparts in the Democratic Party and others! He would have been a shining light into eternity.

Obama will always have a reserved space in the annals of history. The arch of history, it has been stated, always bends towards justice. Obama has been on the side of justice, and so has justice.

By Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa

The author practiced law in Canada for 25 years. He is the author of The Politics of Judicial Diversity and Transformation, as well as The International Law of Human Rights in Africa and more recently, The Case Against Tribalism in Zambia.


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