The Bahamas: U.S. Election Result Sign of a Global Shift?

The recently-concluded U.S. election captured the interest of the entire world. In the Caribbean, online discussion forums like Facebook and Twitter were full of netizens sharing political memes and posting updates about their take on electoral issues. Post-election, a couple of bloggers from the Caribbean territory that is geographically closest to the United States – the Bahamas – shared their thoughts about the outcome.

Nicolette Bethel, who blogs at Blogworld was not at all surprised that President Obama won a second term in office:

I don’t predict political results, because I don’t like making mistakes, but I’m beginning to think that maybe I should. I knew in 2008 from the moment that he announced his presidency that Barack Obama would be a two-term president…I had a feeling that Obama was going to have a tighter race this time around, but had no doubt whatsoever he was going to win the election.

She went on to explain why – and what new media had to do with it:

It’s not hope that makes me feel this way; it’s something else. It’s the sense that we live in a revolutionary time. Let me be up front here. I buy into the idea floated by Marshall McLuhan that the medium is the message, that modes of communication transform society.

The world—not just my Bahamaland, not just the USA, but the world—is currently going through the greatest revolution in communications since the printing press. The digital revolution has changed the way in which information is shared and processed, and it has made the prediction of outcomes in any election unstable. Most political prediction machines are fundamentally anchored in the twentieth century and have not fully adjusted to the universe of social media, where conversations about politics are not limited by political party, national boundaries, or even ideological leanings. The world is talking to one another, ideas are flowing more freely than ever before, discussions are being held outside of the various centres of discussion, and individuals are making up their own minds. The expenditure of money is important, there is no doubt about it, but it is not the deciding factor in any democratic exercise. The deciding factor are the millions of conversations that are happening online, between people who may not be connected in any way beyond their phones, and these conversations are not yet being closely enough monitored to be able to make any decision on political outcomes.

She referred to the conversations that were happening on networking and microblogging sites like Facebook and Twitter as being critical to the way the vote went:

Perhaps in part because of this true spread of democracy – the ability, finally, for individual citizens to make their own contributions, through places like FaceBook and Twitter, to make their opinions known — the ideological temperature of the world is swinging to the left. I don’t find this surprising…given the fact that…the current so-called recession is the culmination of years excessive right-wing economic policies.

Bethel also paid attention to “the demographic of the social media universe”:

It’s younger, more diverse, and more radical than the mainstream media. It looks more to me like the faces that are appearing in the shots of the various crowds gathering at Democratic Headquarters across the USA than it resembles the faces gathered in the Republican ones. It is this situation that led, I believe, to the election of the first African-American president of the United States of American in 2008. It’s this that led to his re-election this year.

Quoting from an article by Cord Jefferson entitled “Dying of the White: Requiem for the 2012 Election”, Bethel dealt with the topics of race and gender in this follow-up post:

Not trying to make people feel uncomfortable here. But racial and gender transparency and white male privilege in the USA can no longer be taken for granted. To wit:

‘Increasingly, the message in America is clear: If your organization or project is a myopic den of white homogeneity, or if your strategy for success includes trying to gin up fear around people who are different, you are destined for irrelevance, and nobody will care how rich you are, or who your daddy is, or at what ivy-draped liberal arts school you cut your perfect teeth. Those who haven’t learned that lesson are mocked, shunned, or, worse, totally ignored. Either way, they don’t win elections.’

She thought there was a lesson in there for everyone, even Bahamian politicians:

How does that translate for the Bahamas? Well, my advice to all politicians, past, current and future, would be not to take the status quo for granted. In the USA, the white rich male norm is being challenged. People are pointing out, rightly, that by the mid twenty-first century American whites will be a real minority. Wealthy white men are a minority now. Expect for something similar to affect the mainstream political class in the Bahamas, be it PLP or FNM, as time moves on. Expect it to happen to those who rely on cries of immigrant invasion, women as the property of men (think the marital rape exception), culture as peripheral, or the Christian nation fiction here at home. This is not the time for business as usual. Usual is slipping into the past.

In a similar vein, feminist blogger Womanish Words said:

I am so pleased they have given [President Obama] four more years, so pleased that Romney and his racist, woman-hating cronies have been rejected. Mr Obama is a man who cares about women, minorities, poor people – people like me! So glad a good man like him gets to remain the leader of the free world. Thank you America for voting with sense. Hope has been restored.

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