Why I am Supporting President Obama’s Re-election ALEMAYEHU G MARIAM

September 10th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

Disappointed but…

Did I enthusiastically support presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008? Absolutely! Do I agree with everything he has done over the past four years as president? No! Has he carried out all of the promises he made in 2008? No! Am I disappointed in President Obama in 2012? Yes! But so are millions of Americans who supported him in 2008. So are tens of millions of other people throughout the world who saw his election as history making and wished him well.

Still Support President Obama

Despite lingering disappointments, I support the reelection of President Obama because he represents my values. As President Bill Clinton put it in his speech at the Democratic Convention last week, there are two choices in the 2012 presidential election:

If you want a you’re on your own, winner take all society you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities— a ‘we’re all in it together’ society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. If you want every American to vote and you think it’s wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama. If you think the president was right to open the doors of American opportunity to young immigrants brought here as children who want to go to college or serve in the military, you should vote for Barack Obama. If you want a future of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining, where the American Dream is alive and well, and where the United States remains the leading force for peace and prosperity in a highly competitive world, you should vote for Barack Obama.

I want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities— a ‘we’re all in it together’ society.

The rallying cry the Republicans have resurrected from three decades ago is, “Are you better off now than you were in 2008?” Let the facts speak for themselves.

When President Obama took office in 2008, the U.S. was losing 750,000 jobs per month. In 2012, there are nearly 100 thousand jobs added every month. Under President Obama’s watch, over 4.5 million private sector jobs have been created in the U.S. Are we better off in 2012 than we were in 2008? Yes!

In 2008, the U. S. economy had crashed. Trillions of dollars in investments were vaporized on Wall Street and the auto industry teetered on the verge of collapse. By 2012, the stock market valuations had doubled; and the American auto industry did not die in bankruptcy court as Mitt Romney had prescribed. By June 2012, General Motors’ sales figures were up by 15.5% over 2011. GM had sold 248,750 vehicles, registering its best performance since 2008. Chrysler had its best sales figures since 2007 with gains of 20.3 percent. Are investors and the investment climate better today than it was in 2008? Has the American auto industry “come back roaring again”?

Until President Obama put his presidency on the line and enacted the Affordable Health Care Act in 2009, some 40 million Americans had no health insurance. By 2014, most Americans will have access to affordable health insurance. They can shop around for competitive coverage using “health insurance exchanges”. Insurance companies will not be allowed to cherry pick the healthiest patients and discriminate based on preexisting conditions. Parents can keep their children on their insurance until age 26. Older Americans who use the Medicare program will continue to get discounts on their medications. Are these millions of Americans better off today than they were in 2008? Certainly!

Before President Obama created the Consumer Financial and Protection Bureau, crooked financial institutions ranging from credit card companies to student loan sharks used all sorts of legal tricks and confusing language to trap and rip off unwary consumers. The hedge fund managers and Wall Street financial manipulators lived high on the hog while millions of Americans lost their homes and investments. Are American consumers better off in 2012 than they were in 2008? You bet!

Women comprise 47 percent (or 66 million women) of the total U.S. labor force. In many industries, women are paid less than their male counterparts. Before 2008, women did not have the legal right to enforce their right to equal pay for equal work. President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which protected women and all other workers who are victims of wage discrimination on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Are these Americans better off in 2012 than they were in 2008? No doubt about it!

As of June 1, 2008, the United States had 182,060 military personnel deployed in Iraq. In 2012, all U.S. combat troops have been pulled out of Iraq. By 2014, all combat troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan. President Obama signed a law to help veterans by providing tax credits to employers who hire them and expanded educational access and various reemployment and transitional services to veterans. Under President Obama’s watch, the world’s view of the United States “improved sharply”. Are these members of the armed services better off in 2008 than they are in 2012? Is America more respected and viewed in better light than it did in 2008? Do we have a better Commander in Chief in 2012 than we did in 2008? Darn right we do!

It is true that not all are better off today than they were in 2008. Osama bin Laden was much better off in 2008 masterminding terror from his his villa in Pakistan. So were many of his brothers-in-terror: Sheik Saeed al-Masri (Al Qaeda’s number three commander), Anwar al-Awlaki (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), Abu Hafs al-Shahri (Al Qaeda’s chief of Pakistan operations), top Al Qaeda leaders Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Ilyas Kashmiri, Ammar al-Wa’ili, Abu Ali al-Harithi, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, Hamza al-Jawfi, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, Ali Saleh Farhan, Harun Fazul and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan (Al-Qaeda East Africa), Younis al-Mauritani, Tehrik e-Taliban, Baitullah Mahsud, Jemayah Islamiya, Noordin Muhammad (Al Quaeda Indonesia), Abdul Ghani Beradar (Taliban deputy and military commander), Muhammad Haqqani (Haqqani network commander), Lashkar-e Jhangvi (Qari Zafar leader) and Hussein al-Yemeni, Dulmatin (top Jemayah Islamiya leader responsible for the 2002 Bali night club bombings which killed over 180 people) and many, many more. These guys were definitely better off in 2008 than they are in 2012!

President Obama knows his work is not finished and he has a lot more to do in improving the economy. But the road he has travelled over the past 4 years has been a hard one. He faced stiff opposition every inch of the way. He was obstructed, blocked, thwarted, vilified and demonized. The top leader of the Republicans in the Senate vowed, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president. That’s my single most important political goal, along with every active Republican in the country.”

As President Clinton observed, President Obama “inherited a deeply damaged economy, he put a floor under the crash and began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators.” There is a lot more to be done. More jobs need to be created and more investments must be made in education, job training and infrastructure improvements. But President Obama cannot fix problems that have taken decades to create in one term.

President Obama, Ethiopia and Africa

Did President Obama deliver on the promises he made for Africa to promote good governance, democracy and human rights? Did he deliver on human rights in Ethiopia? No. Are Ethiopian Americans disappointed over the unfulfilled promises President Obama made in Accra, Ghana in 2009 and his Administration’s support for a dictatorship in Ethiopia? Yes. We remember when President Obama talked about the need to develop robust democratic institutions, uphold the rule of law and the necessity of maintaining open political space and protecting human rights in Africa. We all remember what he said: “Africa does not need strong men but strong institutions.” “Development depends on good governance.” “No nation will create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy.” Was he just saying these words or did he truly believe them?

There is always a gap between political rhetoric and political action. Many Ethiopian Americans who supported President Obama enthusiastically in 2008 today criticize him for hypocrisy and for failing to deliver on his promise of promoting democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. Should we really criticize the President for being indifferent, disinterested, unconcerned and uncaring?

Truth be told, what the President has done or not done to promote good governance, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia is no different than what we, the vast majority of Ethiopian Americans, have done or not done to promote the same values in Ethiopia. That is the painful truth we must face. The President’s actions or lack of actions mirror our own. Just like the President, we profess our belief in democracy, good governance and human rights in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa. But we have also failed to put our values in action. President Obama was constrained in his actions by factors of U.S. national security and national interest. We were constrained by factors of personal interest and personal security.

In the pursuit of Al Quaeda in Somalia and the Horn of Africa, the Obama Administration shelved human rights, good governance and democracy in Ethiopia. Waging a proxy war in Somalia and snagging a drone base were the icing on the cake for the U.S. The Administration shamefully turned a blind eye when elections were stolen in broad day light, journalists and dissidents and opposition leaders were jailed at will. U.S. National security and national interest trumped Ethiopian human rights and democracy. That was wrong in my view because the pursuit of a U.S. anti-terrorism policy in the Horn was not mutually exclusive of the pursuit of a principled human rights policy in Ethiopia.

But let us look at ourselves as Ethiopian Americans and what we have done or not done to promote human rights, good governance and democracy in Ethiopia over the past 4 years. When it comes to speaking up and standing up for these values, most of us have chosen silence and inaction. While the vast majority of us privately extol the virtues of democracy and human rights in Ethiopia, we are scared stiff to make a public statement insupport of our beliefs. We are afraid that if we speak up, the regime in Ethiopia will take away our homes and investments. We are afraid that we will not be issued visas to travel there and even face persecution. We placed our personal interests and personal security over the national interest an security of Ethiopia.

But there are other hard questions we should ask ourselves: What did we do to bring pressure on the Obama Administration to promote human rights, good governance and democracy over the past 4 yeras? Did we organize to have our voices heard by the Administration? Did we exercise our constitutional rights to hold the Administration accountable?

In all fairness, when we point an index finger at President Obama and accuse of him of not doing much in Ethiopia or Africa, we should take a quick glance at the three fingers pointing at us. We should rightly be disappointed with President Obama for his record in Ethiopia and Africa. But we should be more disappointed with ourselves. The ultimate fact of the matter is that it is not President Obama’s responsibility to free Ethiopians or Africans from dictatorship although it is his moral duty not to support dictatorship. But as President, he balances and must balance American national and security interests just as we balance our personal and security interests and act accordingly. It is wise for people who live in glass houses not to throw too many stones.

But President Obama deeply believes in human rights and knows how hard and difficult it is to make it a reality. Last Spring, he made that clear in the context of the long and arduous struggle for human rights in America. “The civil rights movement was hard. Winning the vote for women was hard. Making sure that workers had some basic protections was hard. Around the world, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, what they did was hard. It takes time. It takes more than a single term. It takes more than a single president. It takes more than a single individual… What it takes is ordinary citizens who keep believe, who are committed to fighting and pushing and inching this country closer and closer to our highest ideals.” Protecting human rights in Ethiopia and Africa is hard, very hard. It was hard for Nelson Mandela. It is hard for President Obama. It takes ordinary citizens like ourselves to fight and push for democracy, human rights and good governance in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa.

Remember, November 6, 2012

This is not the time to blame one another or trade accusations about what President Obama has done or not done in Africa or Ethiopia. We all know about the deep and structural problems of Africa with dictatorship and corruption. It takes a lot more to fix Africa than what an American president can do in one term. As Ethiopian Americans, we must not make the mistake of being a single issue group concerned only about a single country or single continent. We must understand that our issues are intertwined with the issues and problems of others. We must not forget that when we vote for President Obama, we vote for him as President of the United States, not Ethiopia or Africa.

On November 6, we face a single question. That question is not about human rights or democracy in Ethiopia. That question is about what kind of society we want to see in America. As President Clinton said, “If you want a you’re on your own, winner take all society you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities— a “we’re all in it together” society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

President Obama in his acceptance speech said:

America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now. Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.

I shall vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden on November 6, 2012 because I would like to be a part of a United States of America of Shared Opportunities and Shared Responsibilities. I support President Barack Obama not because he is a perfect president but because he is an imperfect president seeking to build a more perfect and harmonious America of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities— a “we’re all in it together” society.

I believe President Obama understands what he has to do in the next four years and that he has miles to go before he sleeps. Put in the poetic words of Robert Frost: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep./ But I have promises to keep,/ And miles to go before I sleep.”

President Obama still deserves the full and unflagging support of the tens of thousands of Ethiopian Americans in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin and the rest of the states. I ask all of my readers and supporters to help re-elect President Barack Obama. Yes, we still can…

We must all register to vote before we can vote! Click HERE for more information on how to register.

  1. Reppi
    | #1

    With all due respect Ato ALEMAYEHU G MARIAM, you can not have it both ways. You described yourself as an Ethiopian-American. So you are operating within the confines of American Interest.

    Case in point: “On November 6, we face a single question. That question is not about human rights or democracy in Ethiopia. That question is about what kind of society we want to see in America.”
    So Ato ALEMAYEHU G MARIAM; Africans in general and Ethiopians in particular can solve their own problem without foreign powers meddling in their affairs.

  2. The Eritrean one!
    | #2

    Dearest professor: at times it wonders me for those of us who became SUPER INTELLECTUALS upon learning the ABCD’s in the colleges and universities in the western world. The is no doubt the capicity of human brain how far can up or down ones given the opportunities. In your support of Obama though I believe you are on wrong side because Obama probably gained financially at the expense of Ethiopians, Eritreans, Somalians, and other parts of the horn of Africa region by siding with the war lords in Addis-weyanes. I strongly believe every peace loving fellow Americans would vote Obama out of office if intellectuals like you woud take their precious time to inform the general public the other side of Obama: the Obama that would not say anything as the weyanes war lord continue to ignite wars not only amongst Ethiopians but the whole region; the Obama that decided to stay silent as Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Somalians are suffering through out the world because of America’s would not take a neautral position; and the crime of Obamas will continue as per Susan Rice speech at the funeral of the war lord in Addis. Finally our dearest professor/intellectuals we can agree or disagree about our America’s election should Obama be elected or replaced; as you and others know our region of the horn of Africa, Ethiopia-Eritrea-Somalia-Kenay, are facing back to the future event as they become the play ground of Susan Rice or Frazer. So in your honest intellectual opinion what would be the solution to our looming problems of the horn of Africa’s current dillema? Can you and other intellectuals can gather together and formulate solutions rather than just talk about problems? In due respect of your highly experience in America’s academia please be courageous enough to spell out A WAY FORWARD THE PEOPLE OF THE HORN OF AFRICA WITH OUT THE INTERFERENCE OF SUSAN RICE AND OTHER SELF SERVING NGO’S.

  3. T. Feyssa
    | #3

    Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam
    I am very disappointed in Your presentation and how You used the title of Your article.
    Why should any one cares whether or not you supporting president Obama?
    If that is your choice, keep it for yourself.
    Don’t think You represent others according to the title You gave to Your article.
    It is not also about You, It is about millions of people affected in America and through out the world.
    You don’t have first hand experience how the Ethiopian people suffered
    because of this administration.
    To me, this is another sale and We will never learn because we don’t believe on ourselves.

  4. Anonymous
    | #4

    I support president Obama ,but it is not the first time that Ethiopia has been abandoned by the west or America, historically Ethiopia has been the victim of British and American deliberate policy to create a puppet govenment which will serve their interst in the region.Succesive American presidents have abandoned Ethiopia in her critical time and Obama is no exception, just listen to his emissary on a speech she made at the funeral ceremony.Maybe it is the price you pay for defying colonliasm.

  5. belihu
    | #5

    Hear goes another liberal college professor, echoeing Obama. What are your values Al? Could you please list them specifically? Shared opportunities and shared responsiblities, that is socialism (2-2=2). It did not work any where on planet and failed each time it was tried with severe consequences. Obama calls it distribution of wealth. It is not a natural process, but sounds and feels good. You forgot collective salvation, Al. I have BMW and Toyota pickup which I like both. Which one do you want to share? I have two kids to raise,which responsibility do you want to take? Real life is different from campus academia. Every thing that sounds and feels good is just that. Individual freedom with individual responsibility is the foundation for this great nation,the USA. What do you know about Obama? He is a fairy tell president(Clinton) made by media. All his records are sealed and he is spending millions to keep it that way. Refer the interview between Charlie Rose and Tom Brokaw on PBS. Obama mentions Frank in is book, do you know who Frank is? Attended a church with priest (Rev. Wright)that admires Fidel Castro under so called liberation theology. Obama once said,”we need a civilian force well funded and organized like the army,” do you know what that means at least for an Ethiopian refugee? Recently he said, “if you own business, you didn’t build that”, do you know what that means? Ethiopian businesses in little Ethiopia, many came and gone, but few still doing well. Where would you rank one’s effort? If any Ethiopian votes for Obama, it is because one does not know the difference between perception and reality or a priviledge and a right. Our black cousins Mengistu and Meles did more damage to my race and existance that any white man on earth. To vote for one because he is black is embarrasing to the core. Professor Al, you do not have any other factual reason to vote for Obama. But I thank you for what you do to bring justice in Ethiopia. I will say hello if I run in to you, but be prepared I have the facts with me, not emotions.

  6. Mohammed
    | #6

    if weyane new that we are living in global village they don,t have to open pro/weyane tv in united state .

    what they should do is invite esat to ethiopia so they can save some money.

    its the same thing ethiopians in diaspora or inside ethiopia can view the two channal pro and anti so why weyane doesn,t open their mind.

  7. Mohammed
    | #7

    the goverment of ethiopia pardons thousend of prisoners does this include those kid whom they were on protest,

    for god sake we are not living in thailland or phillipins free those kids.

  8. belihu
    | #8

    I left a comment yesterday, but you did not post it. Shame on you abugidainfo.

  9. MOSE
    | #9

    If you beat muslim alah will punish you like your weyane leader zenawi
    GOD will punish your families your chilldren and you will see how your chilldren suffer for the rest of their life!!!its not you its alahS will….

    they said creat muslim goverment why not why how long christians rulled ethiopia we will rull alah will not you donkoro…

    leading ethiopia some thing ealse, sheria some thing ealse.
    ethiopia muslim we will have a prim minster or president its not you its the majorit can decide beg ye beg lej!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    wekiyanose tegebaleh enemeral hagerachenen..
    we are ethiopian,,,we are proud of our history…our axum..our lalibela….our fasiledes,,,, every ethiopian heritage is its ours,,,,
    its world heritage why not us .

    jesus is ours he is amuslim …
    open your mind

    in my country i have the right to lead my country,,,
    korkoro rase …

    MY LOVE TO MY COUNTRY IS BETTER THAN THOSE BANDAS
    ONE ETHIOPIA DENBERUA TEKEBRO YEBAHER BERE TEKEBRO
    NO ETHNIC NO ZEREGNET ONE ETHIOPIA AIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. belihu
    | #10

    Why aren’t you posting the responses of otherrs, abugidainfo?

  11. Johnny O
    | #11

    I will vote for Obama because I can. Most of you commenting probably are not citizens and never voted. who cares what you say. the prof’s message is only for citizens who can vote; rest of you don’t matter

  12. belihu
    | #12

    What are the reasons you will vote for Obama? Can you name your source of information for the facts? Thanks Johnny O.

  13. Reppi
    | #13

    @Johnny O
    Johnny O, your professor comments a lot about Ethiopian Issues. You can vote for whomever you want. Just stop meddling in Ethiopian and/or African affairs.
    You have made you choice so live with it.

  14. belihu
    | #14

    I watched the debate between Romney and President intern Obama with enthusiasm. I felt great watching Obama schooled by Romney. President Intern Obama, an ideologue, will never learn and understand the founding of this great nation. He has an agenda to bring this nation down, like every other African despot. In fact I do not see the difference between Meles and Obama. They are both pathological liars, agitators and dividers except our despot Meles committed crimes against humanity. President Intern Obama, socialist liberal liar, an ex-college professor will end his internship this November. I can’t wait to see him fired from a position he will never have the capacity or know-how to hold as a leader to this free great nation. You useful idiots that believe that there is still racism in the US, simply put, you are a life-long miserable whiners.
    God bless the United States of America!!!!!

Comments are closed.