Between Obama, a Mormon, and a race to the wire, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

Let me start by issuing a few disclaimers. I am a card carrying Democrat. I am a member of the Democratic National Committee. I voted for Obama in 2008. Even though I’m traveling abroad on November 6th, I’ve already casted my vote for Obama again and every Democrat on the ballot. I have never voted Republican and it would be a miracle if I ever did.

A couple of days ago, I got a call from Nigeria. It was political and very panicky. I thought this older friend was calling me to tell me someone had discovered a cure for bad governance in Nigeria but that person had been kidnapped or the cure stolen.

But, no! His panic was drawn from tens of thousands of miles away. “Ose, you think Obama will win this thing? I’m afraid O! It feels like America is not with him because he’s black! I mean who is Mitt Romney for God’s sakes?” he asked.

I wish I knew the answers but being the partisan that I am, I’m eternally hopeful that Democrats would win every race. And, I can’t let my friend down by telling him I don’t know because who is he going to turn to then? The groundnut seller? Or, his molue driver?

I started by letting him know Romney is the Republican challenger who has discounted 47 per cent of the country but, a good portion of whom would still be voting for him. I also let him know that Mitt is the one politician that beats all politicians in deceit. He changes his mind every speech – a feat if you ask me since our presidential candidates back home don’t even bother promising anything. Why promise when you have the treasury at your disposal?

My friend wasn’t appeased. “We can’t let them vote out our president O!” he chimed.

I love how every black person thinks Obama is their president. It’s a fun thing to watch and listen to. I’ve heard it from Haiti to Kenya to Nigeria. The funny thing is that the man has not really paid that much attention to African countries in his first term, probably because he wants to distance himself from the whole “born in Kenya and a Moslem” propaganda.

I get why people are panicking everywhere about Obama and his prospects of winning this re-election. And they are all justified. Not since Al Gore has a presumptive favorite for the presidency tried to throw away the throne.

First, he came into the electioneering season as one of the most inarticulate president of the modern era. Given his oratory skills, it was a wonder that Obama kept running away from his achievements. Second, the pesky economy was not helping. And, third, when Romney looked dead in the race, Obama appeared at the first debate looking like a man who thought the only item on his agenda that evening was his wedding anniversary dinner and not the debate. By the end of that debate, Obama had given Romney a lifeline.

But Romney is a gift from the elections gods. There is that little thing everyone is not talking about: his faith. He also happens to be a man who has a speech for every audience. Politicians are not supposed to be trusted but Romney has moved the bar far high into the skies. And, people seems to be noticing.

Then, there is the issue of the man’s wealth. Not that there is anything wrong with being wealthy but when you stash it in a tax shelter overseas, does some business with China while blasting them and then telling the whole world that the auto industry need to be allowed to go bankrupt, then you got a whole lot of stuff to run away from.

Despite all of this, the race is breathlessly close if you ask the poll watchers. I actually took a poll in the taco shop yesterday and they all had it close, even though I doubt if anyone in that shop knows the path to a polling booth.

People sometimes think there is a dose of racism in this elections. That if Obama had been white, this would have been a no-contest. I tend to disagree. I am a Nigerian-American, we call a man like Obama “oyinbo” . Two, most evangelicals before now considered Mormons anti-Christian but that was until Mitt got in the race.

Someone asked me, “if a black man had been a Mormon, you think a whole Bill Graham who had spent his life condemning Mormons as evil endorse him?” I had two answers. One, has she ever seen a black Mormon? Two, the way evangelicals see visions these days, it’s a miracle it’s just a white Mormon he’s endorsing. Go to Nigeria, and with the right amount of money, you’ll find a clergy who will endorse a pig.

When my older friend asked, “so, you think he’ll win?”

I assured him that my Ishan wizardry has been diluted by too much Ibadan food and a lot of American fast food. But, I said my cracked crystal ball shows Obama will win the electoral votes but might lag in the popular votes. And, that would just heal that wound from the Gore loss.


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