2012 YEAR IN REVIEW

Remarkable stories from an extraordinary year

I was there...when Barack Obama won the US presidential election

Barack Obama was returned to the White House on November 7, despite lingering dissatisfaction with the economy and a hard-fought challenge by his Republican opponent Mitt Romney.

Clothing company E-commerce manager Tommy Mathew, from Brooklyn, New York, voted Obama in 2008, and again this time round. He tells us why.

"As a left-leaning, South Asian-American youth who had lived in Chicago while Barack Obama was a U.S. Senator, I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. I’d dabbled in community organising at college and spent a year working for a voluntary program which Michelle Obama had helped found, so I had mostly agreed with Obama’s platform leading up to the election. Like many others, I was elated when he was first elected and I truly felt it was an historic event.
 
I think Obama had a relatively successful first four-years, despite the amount of opposition he faced from Republicans who seemed hell-bent upon discrediting him and making him a one-term president. But he hasn’t made a strong effort to sell his policies and achievements to the public. 

That doesn’t really bother me though. The last four years haven’t been easy but I think he inherited a lot of problems from the Bush administration. The fact that we avoided another depression was a big deal and, until I got a new job last year, I had lived in for the last four years without health insurance, so to see Obama pass the health care bill was massive.

Lastly, and anecdotally, I feel like the rest of the world’s impression of America improved when Obama was elected.  Though I have conflicted feelings about Guantanamo Bay remaining open, the use of drones, and the administration’s kill list.
 
With the current election, while I thought Obama would win, I knew it would be very close and there would be a reasonable chance he would lose because of four years of almost complete noncooperation from Republicans, millions of dollars in advertisements from conservative political action committees, and efforts to disenfranchise young, poor, minority voters under the auspices of reducing voter fraud.

Still, I think he had a very well-organised and intelligently-run campaign, and that they were preparing to deal with all these issues.

I am a news junkie so I check the news throughout the day and love reading the New York Times and Politico on my phone. I would voraciously read updates. Since the predictions were pointing to an Obama victory, it was reassuring as well as informative.
 
Many people complained about the tenor of the race, and how nasty it was. Perhaps I’m too cynical, but it didn’t bother me and I think both campaigns were doing what they had to do. It was disappointing to see both sides stretch the truth, or even lie, but I think the instances in which Romney did so were particularly bad compared to the Obama camp.
 
On the day of the election, I waited for an hour at the polling station for my chance to vote. I went straight to my voting site right after work and, being in New York, it was chaotic. 

A few polling sites had been shifted or combined, which may have been by Hurricane Sandy. The hold-up seemed to be caused by malfunctioning ballot scanners and a generally understaffed polling site. No-one was particularly happy about it but luckily nobody made a big fuss and most waited patiently to cast their votes. I did hear grumblings from other locals who claimed that the long waits were designed to discourage likely Obama voters from staying and actually voting.

Afterwards, I found out the results of the election on Tuesday evening by a New York Times alert on my iPhone that the networks had projected Obama to win the election. I was nursing a cold so I was in bed and trying to stay up to find out what happened, and I simply felt relief.

Because I live in Brooklyn it’s relatively rare for me to find any Romney supporters, especially in my neighbourhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historic Black area in central Brooklyn. 

But, the following night after the election I spoke with, and gloated a bit, my Father who’d voted Romney solely because he’s a traditional Catholic and votes on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage as opposed to policy. He was disappointed.

He's a smart fellow but watches Fox News and believes what he sees there, so he often regurgitates right-wing talking points and can't substantiate them, so he has pretty unfounded fears and dislikes of  Obama.

I imagine that his feelings, and reactions aren't that much different from other Romney supporters. 

But at the end of the day, our man won, and I'm grateful." 

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