A debacle for the Democrats

A change is afoot in the political panorama of the US, one that has “humbled” President Barack Obama. The results of the anxiously awaited midterm elections — that serve as a feeler of public sentiment for the presidential election — are in and they have shown a sharp swing in the Republicans’ favour. In a surprising turn of events, Obama and the Democrats’ appeal seems to be waning as the Republicans, under the influence of the ultra-conservative Tea Party Movement, have achieved a majority in the House of Representatives. The Democrats have retained their majority in the Senate but just barely and the Republicans have also snagged 10 governorships from Democrats in places like Ohio, Michigan, Kansas and Wyoming amongst others. Now that the results are in, some drastic changes will start taking place — the replacement of Nancy Pelosi (the first ever woman speaker in the House) by John Boehner being just one of them. With such changes will come a tougher time ahead for President Obama.
The results have shown an increasingly impatient American public, one that is frustrated with their country’s sluggish economic growth and the high unemployment rate. This does not bode well for President Obama who is still trying to recover from the failed policies of the Bush regime — much like the PPP government is getting flak after the disastrous Musharraf era. All the policies President Obama has inked and plans to ink, especially his much hyped healthcare reforms that the Republicans went tooth and nail after, will suffer from immeasurable roadblocks as the Republican majority in the lower house is poised to oppose any Obama reforms. No matter how many claims are made about implementing “non-partisan” politics, whenever the legislative body consists, in majority, of the president’s opposition, every party will follow its own agenda.

Once elected, Obama’s attempts to reach out to Muslims, most prominently seen in his Cairo speech in 2009 and his attempts to broker some kind of peace agreement in the Middle East, will, no doubt, have angered the pro-Israel Republicans who have been gunning for Obama since these overtures. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have plenty of reason to smile now that his conservative loyalists are back in a position to help reverse any small headway made in the peace talks.Known for their pro-war stance and hardline view on waging military operations in foreign lands, the Republican victory may have given the Af-Pak situation a boost. Obama’s announcement to start withdrawing US troops from July 2011 was arguably compromising the war effort as it was bolstering the Taliban. Now that Congress has large Republican representation, the troop withdrawal may just come under closer scrutiny and could very well be slowed. Pakistan need not necessarily get the jitters over this. The US administration’s support, whether Democratic or Republican, for Pakistan as its key ally in this war may not wane considering that we are being constantly cajoled by Washington to mount a military offensive in North Waziristan.

It is the Muslims that live in Palestine who will really feel the brunt of this stinging Republican victory.President Obama is urged to follow through on the many people- and Muslim-friendly promises he made when he first stepped into the presidential shoes. It is the American people’s prioritisation of their economy over his reforms that have cost the Democrats their dominance. Now, in the race to the 2012 presidential election, Obama must listen to his people, their concerns and the rest of the world to whom he made lofty promises – Dailytimes