ESSAY 3, 03/23/09
On The 2008 Presidential Election
No one can deny that the 2008 presidential election was unprecedented. Not only was it long but it drew attention worldwide; everybody was watching closely to see how it would turn out. The economic downturn in the United State was probably a contributor factor to Barack Obama's victory because the economy was the most important issue to the voters. This is especially true as the financial meltdown coincided with the final weeks of the election; this made economic leadership important in the election because people felt the impact of the soaring gas prices, and the housing crisis. The result was the dire need for change, and immediate solutions to their economic woes, and they saw Obama as having the qualifications to solve the crisis.
One reason for the economic downturn is the rising of fuel costs because of high demand for oil by the consumers, the weak dollar and the ongoing war in the Middle East. The United States has been bogged down in Iraq, which has cost the country over $2 trillion, according to Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist. In order to cover these massive costs the money was printed by the Federal Reserve, which increased the money supply and weakened the dollar prompting inflation. Another factor behind soaring fuel prices is high gasoline taxes and insufficient refineries in the US. More importantly, the gasoline supplies are hindered by regulations that require specialized blends for certain parts of the country. In effect, the country was sliding towards recession because gas prices were going through the roof. Consequently, the impact of the crisis was felt everywhere by everyone mainly the working class, the soaring gas prices affected people's everyday life. For instance, driving to work was becoming expensive; hence, people started to cut back in their traveling habits because gas prices were skyrocketing and becoming unaffordable. The Americans were outraged and needed desperate change. This anger led to voting for Obama.
Housing crisis was probably another reason why the US economy is going on a downward spiral. It all began with the greed of banks and other financial institutions when they decided to give loans to people who could not afford to buy a house. Home buyers were enticed to buy homes under the illusion that they would pay only an introductory monthly payment, which seemed affordable to them in the beginning. However, as the interest rates went up, so did the monthly payments. As a result, mortgage delinquency and foreclosures were on the rise because people could no longer afford their payments. Also, poor lending practices on a nationwide scale led to illiquidity in the banking system and the loan losses. Consequently, when people defaulted, banks could not sell their mortgage securities as the investors grew leery of the grim stock markets. This resulted in the credit crunch, and the banks were reticent to give loans even among themselves. Home owners were losing their homes because they could not keep up with their mortgage payments. Even worse, some people committed suicide in that they were evicted out of their homes, with nowhere to go and nothing to eat. As a
result, the Americans were outraged and voted for Obama because he showed his strength on the economy.
The economic crisis in the United State was a contributor factor to Barack Obama's victory because the economy was by far the dominant concern to the voters. The way Obama reacted to the financial meltdown in September gave him an edge over his opponent. Obama showed steadiness and confidence in the economic speeches, and the way in which he would handle it .During the campaign he addressed the concern of the voters, reassuring them that if he was elected, he would take necessary measures to fix the housing crisis. Obama's proposal of interim tax relief for the cost of oil, and his ideas about investing in energy independence resonated well with voters. He spoke to voters in such a way to restore confidence in the American people that the economy could be reversed away from sliding towards recession if they voted for him. According to an article by Mark Silva(Chicago Tribune),Obama said: “...that's why I'm offering change that will provide working families with a middle-class tax cut, affordable health care and college, and an energy plan that will create up to five million good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced.” Therefore, Obama was able to appeal to voters to convince them that he was the right candidate for the tough job.
In short, the economic hard times affected the outcome of the presidential election in favor of Obama. The economy took a center stage in the campaign because voters were looking for someone that could ease their anxiety about the mortgage crisis and their pain at the pump. His straight talk about the root causes of the crisis and its effects on the American people, and his promise to reverse it drew a massive support. Accordingly, Barack Obama was able to motivate his supporters to be part of his change movement, so
when it was time for the voters to cast their ballots, the majority voted for Obama hoping to lead them out of the economic crisis.