Obama was the preferred candidate of key sections of the ruling class in 2008. He was elected as a result of anger at Bush’s failed policies and the 2008 financial collapse and recession. Yet in 2012, Obama could well be the next casualty of the recession.
Political leaders around the world are being swept from power, whether they are nominally left-wing or right-wing capitalist parties. A victory for Republicans in 2012 would be a further example of voters “kicking the bums out” of power. It would not represent any fundamentally increased support for the Republicans, who are as discredited as Democrats. Nor would it represent a rejection of the left, as would be trumpeted ad nauseam by the corporate media. Instead, it would be an indictment of Obama for his failure to solve the economic problems and his failure and refusal to stand up to Corporate America.
The fact that there is no primary in the Democratic Party means that Obama has not had to face the anger of workers and his social base in the unions and progressive movements. It also means he hasn’t yet had to offer any concrete promises to attract votes from his progressive base.
But after serving big business so well after his election, he is clearly exposed. Anger has grown among labor and the left after his capitulations to the corporate agenda and the Republicans time and again. There is also huge dissatisfaction with his failure to turn around the economy among large sections of workers and the poor.
No sitting president has been re-elected since Roosevelt with the economy in such a bad state. It is far too early to see how the election might turn out in 2012, but clearly Obama is in a much weaker position than in 2008. To get elected, Obama is already trying to reposition himself in an attempt to offer some new hope to those who voted for him in 2008.
Obama’s present re-election strategy is to stake out a somewhat different position than the Republicans on certain issues while ignoring the areas where he has agreement. His emphasis on repealing Bush’s tax cuts for the rich has again featured in his re-election campaign. The fact that this was promised in 2008 remains unspoken.