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First, one of the choices would lead to the emergence of the first African-American president (Black president), and the second choice would lead to the emergence of their first female president. Either of the two candidates was almost sure of getting into the White House because the Republican Party was fast losing its popularity as a result of the circumstances of the time. Obama eventually got the better vote because he was no doubt the more popular of the two candidates. He became a history-maker, as he became the first Black to rule the country after over 200 years of independence.
Everywhere one went then, one was greeted with Obamamania – Obama ‘T’ shirts, fez caps, belts, trousers, key holders, notebooks, balloons, wrist watches, eye glasses, car stickers, etc. But the enthusiasm that greeted his election and eventual swearing-in as America’s 44th president began to die down sooner than later. He began to lose his rating and popularity clearly because of some controversial and hasty decisions that he made. When these mistakes were repeated from time to time and in different areas, Americans and indeed the world began to have a rethink; and started to nurse the fear that all that glitters may after all not be gold.
What has reduced his popularity?
Some of the decisions President Barak Obama made that have seen his popularity nose dive include:
1. Discrimination against Nigeria: On assumption of office, the president made his first official familiarization visit to the continent of Africa, his root. He accorded respect and recognition to countries like Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, etc by paying them a visit: but he shunned Africa’s most populous and most influential nation, Nigeria, and treated her like a leper. Nigeria may be having her own challenges and going through her wilderness experience; one thing remains very clear, she is clearly the most influential voice in the continent – ask the UN Security Council, ECOMOG, Common Wealth of Nations, AU, FIFA, CAF, etc and they would tell you the undiluted truth. She remains Africa’s biggest philanthropist, defender of the smaller countries, and the Sub region’s leader.
2. HealthCare Reform Bill: The healthcare reform bill became the first litmus test that his government was subjected to. His reform bill was greeted with criticism and suspicion by both the Republicans and some Democrats. The bill eventually got passed into law; but so many people had lost their faith in him as they could not be convinced the bill meant well for the poor masses.
3. Bail-out loans for Chrysler: The effect of the world economic recession was so biting that Chrysler Motors had to request for some bail-out loans from the government to enable them save thousands of jobs for their employees. This was handled with levity; and today, we all know the outcome of government’s refusal to come to the aid of the auto company.
4. War in Afghanistan and Iraq: This was one of the reasons Americans refused to vote for the Republicans: a lot of soldiers were losing their precious lives in these countries. So, they hoped the new president would stop this trend by withdrawing their children, brothers, husbands and fathers from these wars that had consumed much of their resources. However, today, the country has lost over 4,000 military personnel in these countries, and they continue to lose their able-bodied soldiers daily. This continual loss of their dear ones has made the people to lose their hope in the government.
5. Resignation of key ministers: Since this administration came into power, some ministers and some other persons appointed into key positions have voluntarily resigned from office. Why? I leave that to you to guess. Recently the defense minister, Robert Gates announced he’s going to resign from the government in 2011. This decision was said to have shocked the president beyond words.
6. Listing Nigeria as a terrorist country: A young Nigerian who never grew up in Nigeria and never understood the cultural values of his people, made an attempt to bomb an American airline on 25th December 2009; a move which was vehemently condemned by all Nigerians. Surprisingly, President Barak Obama immediately placed Nigeria on the terror watch list. This was at a time Nigeria needed understanding from the International Community because her president was on a sick bed in Saudi Arabia. That decision further reduced the respect that Nigerians, nay, Africans had for the American president.
7. The Middle East: Recent research and public opinion pools showed that about 70% of the Arab world feels that President Obama has lost his popularity in the Middle East. His wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; his role in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and his attitude towards Iran were said to be partly responsible for this dwindling popularity.
8. Loss of Millions of jobs: Since this present government assumed power, millions of jobs have been lost following the world economic recession. The people feel enough is not being done to secure their jobs and guarantee their means of livelihood. So many people have committed suicide as a result of this. Some have even killed their wives and children as well as themselves.
How Can This Popularity Be Regained?
1. Improved relationship: Obama should not treat everybody with suspicion. He should learn to draw those influential countries closer to himself rather than treat them with disdain or contempt. He should expunge Nigeria’s name from the terror watch list and get more support from Africa.
2. Stop the wars: America has spent billions of dollars prosecuting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; and is also thinking of conducting a military exercise with South Korea, when a lot of her citizens are jobless and hungry. The country is also running into debts. They should listen to popular opinion/demand and withdraw from these wars. They should forget about preserving their pride; rather the welfare of the people should be their priority. The government should create more jobs and employments with the money being squandered on war. Let the slaughtering of the soldiers stop so that some of the children of these soldiers would get to know their fathers.
3. Revisit the economic stimulus package: They should try as much as possible to save those companies that have provided employment for thousands of Americans from liquidating as a result of the world economic meltdown.
4. Reduce Interference: America should allow regions to manage their affairs; and only send their war machines there when they are truly needed and invited to help. Going there on their own without an invitation would make those people misinterpret their genuine intensions, and further reduce their popularity.