(posted from Revolutionary Democracy)
In one sense, there is no doubt that the election of Barack Hussein Obama as President of the United States is historic. As the first Black president, it is clear that no longer can Afro-Americans be told to only aim for what is ‘realistic’ for them. Decades ago, Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography that, when he told his teacher that he wanted to be a lawyer, the teacher told him that he should aim to be something like a carpenter, as becoming a lawyer was not a ‘realistic’ goal for a Black person.
Further, Obama’s presidency will mark a change from Bush’s style of unbridled unilateral wars of aggression. Bush has made the U.S. government one of the most detested ones for people all over the world, not only in the Middle East and other oppressed and dependent countries, but also among people in its ‘allies’ in Western Europe. Bush has also become one of the most despised presidents among a large section of people in the U.S. In New York City, Obama won by almost 80% of the vote over McCain, who was correctly seen as a continuer of Bush’s policies, and in the Bronx, with its overwhelmingly Black and Latino population, Obama won with almost 90% of the vote.
But Obama did not win just because he had broad popular support. He won largely because he was the clear favourite of the main sectors of the monopoly capitalist ruling class. His campaign outspent McCain’s by about $640 million to $240 million. And this was not just because millions of Afro-Americans and other working people sent in their small contributions (which they did do), but because the big monopolists, the oil companies, auto, real estate and other sectors, gave millions to his campaign.
Also, the majority of the bourgeois media gave their support to Obama. In New York City, not only the New York Times, which represents the liberal sector of finance capital and is aimed primarily at the white petty and middle bourgeoisie, supported Obama. So did the Daily News, whose main function is to direct bourgeois demagogy at the working class. Of the large bourgeois newspapers, only the New York Post, the mouthpiece of the most reactionary sectors of the ruling class, supported McCain. (Of course, the bourgeois papers totally ignored the campaign of Cynthia McKinney, the progressive Afro-American woman who ran an independent campaign on the Green Party line.) To see the importance of the bourgeois media in elections, one must only recall the universal ridicule that they directed at Howard Dean, knocking him out of the race when he was the leading candidate in the Democratic Primary in 2004, because he took a stance against the war on Iraq.
The elections themselves showed the clear rejection of Bush’s policies, not only on the war but also on his giveaways to the rich. Millions of new voters were registered (some 300,000 in New York City alone), the great majority of whom supported Obama. About 95% of Afro-American voters supported Obama, as did almost 70% of Latino voters. White voters in the majority (55%) went for McCain, though white voters in overwhelmingly white states (such as Iowa or New Hampshire) were in the majority for Obama. It was whites in the Afro-American nation in the Black Belt South who voted primarily for McCain.