Nov 23, 2008 Letters
After a victory of historic significance, President Barack Obama will inherit problems of historic proportions – a world in financial turmoil and a treasury that is near empty – not seen since the great depression.
He will have to rule like a ‘superman’ to get the economy back on track to save the rest of the world. Guyana and the rest of the world will be looking to see what the new President will do to save the financial system from total collapse.
If America sinks deeper, then Guyana will go down under because our economy depends a lot on America for handouts from a generous Congress and a kind Guyanese American Diaspora that sends as much as $100 million in remittances annually to their loved ones.
Americans also will keenly focus on what Obama will do because they want immediate relief from a host of problems.
But Obama’s spending options will be severely constrained by the current recession that is not showing signs of easing anytime soon. The stock market keeps sinking and unemployment keeps rising.
Will Obama be able to deliver on the widespread expectation he built, especially on his many promises during the campaign?
If he does, money will flow in the U.S and around the globe and Guyana will benefit with continued remittances. If Obama does not deliver, we can see a prolonged global recession and trouble everywhere.
Obama’s soaring speeches created great expectations and he knows people are looking to him for solutions to their problems. I think he will make every effort to succeed.
The pressure to succeed will be enormous because he knows if he does not deliver, people will see him as just another run of the mill politician who makes empty promises hurting his re-election chances. So he can’t afford to let his followers down.
I think he will try to do some manageable things that people will support like funding education, child care and infrastructure which the right will not critique him on.
People will give him some time to effect change continuing to support his “Yes, we can” theme which won over millions who harboured doubts about him. But their patience will run out if he does not move quickly and boldly, and if they don’t see a change in their lifestyle.
Since he was elected, Americans have been wondering whether Obama will govern from the centre, left or right – meaning his ideological position on issues.
In 1984, Obama was a left winger when he came to City College to organise with student leaders like myself to fight education cuts.
And he has never harboured tendencies of the right although he grew up with privileges that the poor did not experience. So I expect him to stay in the centre and to pursue policies slightly to the left to benefit students, the poor, unemployed, etc.
But I do not think Obama will be the left wing ideologue who came to CCNY where many Guyanese and other Caribbean students with radical ideas.
I think he will move fast on policies to spur the economy with stimulus packages to bail out several industries and get people back to work.
This will be good for immigrants like Guyanese who are hurting with lost jobs and who are losing homes in the continuing mortgage crisis.
But I do not think there will be immediate economic recovery. Guyanese and the rest of the world better buckle up because as Obama said, the ride ahead will be bumpy, long and steep.
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