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The class and demographic war that decided the US election

Barack Obama managed to be re-elected for another term and even won the popular vote in a fierce and bruising battle despite the doubts in this year of the changing of the guards and transition of power.

Unlike many of his counterparts in Europe such as the former French President Nicolas Sarckozy, Obama was re-elected despite the economic meltdown and a vilifying campaign against him. His re-election is mainly thanks to an unseen class and demographic war that saw him winning the vote of the minorities, the gender and the young people who decided this year's elections, contrary to the view held by the pundits who predicted that the economy would decide the outcome of this year's elections.

The demographer Joel Kotkin was spot when he wrote on the 29th of August 2012, an article titled; 'the Class War that will decide the Presidential Election', in which he asserted that with the patriarchate divided, the real action in the emerging class war was taking place further down the economic food chain.

Kotkin said that Obama's core middle-class support, and that of his party, comes from what he termed "the clerisy," a 21st century version of France's pre-revolution First Estate", which he described as 'an enlightened educated class, made up of the intellectuals, artists, and educators, that would school the rest of society on values and standards, serving as the key organs of enforced conformity, distilling truth for the masses, seeking to regulate speech and persuade the youth'.

According to Kotkin, these include an ever-expanding class of minders; lawyers, teachers, university professors, the media and, most particularly, the relatively well paid legions of public sector workers, serving as the Democratic Party's new base.

On its part, the GOP now relies on another part of the middle class, what Kotkin calls the yeomanry. They are primarily conservatisms small property owners who tend to live in the suburbs, and depend on the industry for their livelihoods either directly or indirectly.

Ironically, the revival in housing largely in the suburbs might be the one thing that rescued President Obama's floundering campaign. According to Kotkin, the housing recovery is possibly one of those factors that made a particularly important difference in the election in key swing state suburban communities. Unlike the Democratdominated central cities and the Republican countryside, the suburbs became America's primary contestable territory, says the demographer Kotkin. Ultimately this division - clerisy versus yeomanry -decided the election.

All President Obama needed to do was to gain a rough split among the vast group making around or above the national median income. Obama also counted on overwhelming most ethnic minorities. For the most part, the members of the groups that make up Obama's support group embrace shared values: strongly secular views on social issues, fervent environmentalism, and embrace of the ideal of racial redress, of which Obama remains perhaps the most evident symbol. In addition, Obama's success resulted from demographic changes sweeping the periphery of most major cities. Long derided by blue-state intellectuals, the suburbs increasingly reflect and shape the country's ethnic diversification. Nationwide, well over 5 million Latinos moved to the suburbs during the past decade - and many more Latinos now live in suburbs than core cities.

In the past, Hispanic suburbanites tended to vote somewhat more Republican than their urban counterparts. But this year, they were solidly Democratic giving 75% of votes to Obama-as Latinos have been repelled by the GOP's ugly embrace of nativism, and drawn to Obama's clever move to offer effective amnesty to young illegal immigrants. Obama also received significant backing from white professionals, who tend to cluster in the suburbs of cities such as Columbus or around Washington, D.C. The fact that many of these professionals work directly or indirectly for the federal government that Obama has expanded dramatically only helped him in his bid to remain in the White House.

On balance, this all worked to the president's favour when he managed anything close to a split in suburbia, as he did in 2008, and surely won a second term. Such a loss, at a time of economic hardship, is enough to force even the dullards of the GOP back to the drawing board to confront their inability to win over enough of the suburban voters who should provide the GOP an electoral majority, but so far did not.

On his part, Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report says that the Democrats are not the lesser-of-two-evils as the apologists claim but are in fact the most-effective-evil. After all, it was Obama who bombed his own race in Africa. This was confirmed by Paul Street who wrote an article in September this year titled; 'Poverty: a dirty and missing word at the Political Conventions', lamenting the deafening silence on poverty in this year's American presidential election, which might seem unsurprising on the part of the Republicans, the officially plutocratic business party.

For their part, the Democrats had obvious partisan reasons to avoid references to poverty and the poor. Their standard-bearer has held the White House for the last three years of recession and weak "recovery." This discomfort was deepened by the record setting taxpayer bailouts Obama extended to the grotesquely opulent financial overlords who crashed the economy in the first place - the Wall Street elites who granted record-setting campaign contributions to Obama in 2008, and who turned out to be his worst critics this year.

On the other hand, there is a newly released thought-provoking and inspiring book by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West published on April 17, 2012, that is seeking an end to poverty. According to reviews, this book speaks to the issues facing our world as we have become more delineated into two economic classes, the rich and the rest of us better known by the phrase the "Haves" and the "Have-Nots".

According to reviews, with extensive research and first hand documentation, the book gives a glimpse into one of the most discreetly ignored problems of poverty and inequality. As the world still haemorrhages from the Great Recession, the social justice advocates, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, take aim at poverty and challenge us to change how we think, talk, and act in the face of gross income inequality as the Americans were going to vote for their next president.

In today's somersaulting economy, as the middle class disappears and governments' safety nets are mercilessly shredded, Smiley and West provide a rationale and sense of urgency to help us confront poverty and economic inequality. They advocate for a new socioeconomic system "based not on entitlements" but rather on a foundation of "fundamental fairness" and to support good public policy that prioritizes and delivers living-wage jobs as well as pragmatic training and employment of lowskilled and unskilled workers so that all will have a chance to lift themselves out of poverty. A "Fundamental Fairness Lobby" will give liberal cover for maintaining the poor in political bondage and allows the Democrats and Republicans to continue to sell their souls and the poor's future to the highest bidders.

The final section of the book presents "twelve povertychanging ideas" designed to "prod America's consciousness towards righteously radical thinking and 21st century revolutionary action." While there are some good ideas sprinkled throughout the twelve points to challenge poverty, the vast majority falls squarely within the center-right policies of the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, most of the proposals are either warmed over political rhetoric we have heard before or where there is a seed of revolutionary thought it is left to whither on fallow ground for lack of nourishing details.

According to the Revolutionary American Party's piece posted on the 15th of October 2012, Poverty will not be eliminated through abstract calls for a "living wage" or begging for more funds for Head Start or job training programs. As long as US corporations can exploit workers abroad then import their products under "free trade" agreements all the while hiding their profits in tax havens around the world-poverty will be the new normal. Manufacturing jobs and wealth will return to America's shores when they destroy the offshore tax shelters and enter into international agreements for financial transparency.

Instead of giveaways of trillions of dollars to the financial sector and continuing to pour trillions into the wrong-headed military adventures abroad, Americans must use their wealth to reemploy teachers and rebuild cities. Instead of using the paltry "bank settlement" money to destroy homes so the banks and real estate markets can reboot their housing market scam, these homes should be refurbished including retrofitting for energy savings and alternative energy production, says the Revolutionary American Party. For decades, on vital services as energy and water, there has been huge increases in costs to consumers and deteriorating infrastructures that put public safety at risk.

Instead of sheltering British Petroleum (BP) and the other oil giants from ecological and social responsibility and wasting taxpayer money on maintaining and expanding the secret surveillance complex, and spit-shines the boots of the military industrial complex, what Americans need is to end waste in government beginning with the big offenders - the military and the US government terrorist organizations such as the CIA, NSA and JSOC. Drone technology should be demilitarized and reoriented to monitor climate change and ecological disaster hot spots.

Indeed, just as Paul Street said, "...Like a man with a knife in his back staggering along a crowded street without aid, the poor have been stabbed with the blade of indifference…." we just hope the reelection of Obama will signal a radical change to address the real issues as he promised that he has listened to the voters and has learned from them.

In our context, with the growing gross inequality, abject poverty and soaring unemployment rate now at 51% country wide and 75% for the youth respectively, coupled with lack of houses and land, one wonders if here too there could be an unseen class war brewing underneath as evidenced by the closing of shebeens, the high traffic fines, the demolition of shacks during winter, the exile kids saga and the recent strikes by teachers and nurses, like the 'Nyamu notes' at work.

The glorification of the market has led to a callous corporate- dominated economy that yields an obscene level of wealth inequality, along with its corollary of intensified class hostility and hatred coupled with glamorizing materialistic gain, and the pursuit of narrow individualistic preoccupations, as well as an entrenched value system centred on the personal acquisition of wealth at all costs and by all means by the nouveau riche with their capitalist negromania.

In this regard, we better listen to the advice of Steve Biko when he said that we must reject "those things that are not only foreign to us but that seek to destroy the most cherished of our beliefs - that the cornerstone of society is man himself - not just his welfare, not his material wellbeing but just man himself with all his ramifications." To reclaim and build a society that is new not only in its political and economic arrangements, but also in terms of the values it upholds, we must re-educate our people about the Ubuntu value system which places a premium on the values of human solidarity, compassion and human dignity.

Ubuntu is a lived philosophy which enables members of the community to achieve higher results through collective efforts, firmly based on recognising the humanity in everyone and by so doing connecting all of humanity irrespective of ethnicity, gender or racial origins in accordance with the pan-Africanist ideology. Instead of being suspicious of each other and looking at our ethnic background we must create a developmental- interventionist state and a society that cares for it's less fortunate to avert the looming class war in Namibia. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper but solely reflect my personal views as a citizen.


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