#Obama vs #Romney #Africa[n]-American Perspective

Obama Romney Debate

Repealing and reversing laws is NOT going to move America forward

“I am one of those that trusted Barack Obama to bring change. He knowingly or unknowingly broke that trust. I also know that I don’t want to vote for Mitt Romney, not even in protest of Barack Obama. Nor will I not vote.”

By Sophia Tesfamariam
[Minor Editing by YoungPFDJ]

Election Day is right around the corner and as the two candidates vie for our attention and our votes, I am watching, listening and reading a lot more about the issues that will affect my life and that of my children in the future. I have to find out for myself as the million dollar advertisements seem to be more about fear mongering then being informative. The ugliness aside, I was seeking to find out what each candidate stood for. I know President Barack Obama’s record, so I was looking to find out what it was that Governor Mitt Romney was offering that could sway me to vote for him.

Before I go on, allow me to state the following. I, like an overwhelming majority of Eritrean Americans voted for Barack Obama in 2008. We believed he would do what he said he would do-bring real change, change that we could believe in. As first generation Americans, the Eritrean American Community wanted to see change, not just in US domestic policies, but also in its US Policy for Africa in general and Eritrea in particular. The incoherent, racist policy favored the 4 or 5 “anchor states”, while it undermined the independence and sovereign rights of all the other states.

The policy is reminiscent of the colonial era and the viceroys that were appointed to oversee Europe’s overseas colonies and territories. The viceroys governed large areas of land and were responsible for preserving control of the colonies, and were instrumental in implementing royal orders and polices. Even though they did not craft the policies, their opinions weighed heavily in the decisions made. US policy crafters had decided that Africa would be divided into 4 – East, West, North and South. In the Horn of Africa, where Eritrea is found, Ethiopia was appointed the role of the viceroy.

So what was the logic behind choosing Ethiopia as the US’ anchor state for the region? According to the news media and some political pundits, presumably it was because it was the largest and the most populous in the region, as if that was a coherent factor in making such an important decision. No such policy existed for Europe, Asia etc. US allies were not the biggest and most populous in all the regions. For example, Israel, a nation that is 7 times smaller than Eritrea, is US’ staunchest ally in the Middle East; Britain is the US’ staunchest ally in Europe, Taiwan is a closer ally than China etc. etc.

The Eritrean American Community, like most other African immigrant communities is made up of scholars, professionals, and skilled workers. They are professors educating our children in colleges across the United States; they are engineers and research scientists in various institutions such as the National Institute of Health and NASA. Eritrean American engineers are found at Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other institutions of excellence. They are the medical providers in our hospitals and clinics and are found throughout the service industry. Most importantly, Eritrean Americans are proudly serving in the armed services. Their voices matter and their votes will make a difference in 2012. So are Eritrean Americans going to vote for Mitt Romney? I don’t know, but I do know that I have serious questions about his agenda for America, the America that my children will inherit.

He seemed to agree with Barack Obama on his foreign policy, including the extra judicial drone killings that have killed innocent men, women and children along with some “terrorists”. Kwaku Asei, an African writer, tells us how similar both candidates are when it comes to Africa. He writes:

“…Both candidates continue to view Africa through old paradigms. Just as in previous administrations, the Obama administration has overwhelmingly engaged with the continent through the military. The intervention in Libya (whatever your views on it) had a destabilizing affect across the sub-region and was a direct cause of the current unrest in Northern Mali. The morally questionable drone strikes which have already been employed in the Horn of Africa (leading to numerous civilian casualties) may be extended to this part of Africa. He will probably bring little or no change for Africa and its people…”

The same racist, incoherent US policy for Africa crafted during the Clinton Administration will probably remain mostly unchanged under a Romney Administration. But what makes Romney worse is his contempt for the needs and aspirations of the people is clearly manifested by this statement on Syria during the recent debate:

“…Our objectives are to replace Assad and to have in place a new government which is friendly to us, a responsible government, if possible…”

Kwaku Asei expressed the sentiments of all Africans with this:

“…It is terrifying to think that a government’s responsibility towards its own people is only an afterthought in deciding whether or not to support it. Many countries in Africa are yet to recover from the United States practice of installing and supporting foreign governments who were friendly to the United States and only minimally responsible to their citizens. The world cannot afford a return to this way of thinking…”

Romney is not going to be better for Africa… he may actually be worse.

What about his domestic agenda?

Mitt Romney, if he has his way is going to repeal, revise or replace legislation that has benefitted the most vulnerable in American society today-women, children and the elderly. Sending our children to college will be harder and for some impossible. That cannot be good news, as it will be the start of something even uglier. For immigrants, it is almost a return to the days of Jim Crowe. Let us take a look at what he says he wants to do. Romney wants to:

  • Repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law
  • Repeal the Dream Act
  • Repeal, overturn Roe v. Wade
  • Repeal the Health Care for America plan


I don’t know anything about banks or financial institutions and how they work. What I do know is that they caused upheaval and devastation on thousands of families across the United States. I know that folks lost their hard earned pensions, I know that something went array and crimes were committed against the people, and yes some token rich guys went to jail. I also know that the United States Congress and Senate is made up of educated people who know a thing or two about these institutions. I know that these men and women also believe in the free market economy, so they are not trying to “socialize” these institutions. The law that was adopted was not done without due diligence and extensive research and debate. It took a long time and it was something that had to be done.

What is the alternative? If Dod-Frank is repealed, how can we make sure that what happened to the thousands who became victims of the big banks never happens again? Who is going to watch out for the tax payers if there is no oversight and regulation to stop the big financial institutions from failing again and requiring further stimulus?


According to Mitt Romney’s site [10/25/2012], he:

“…believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view…he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade… Mitt supports the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. As president, he will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood…”

First of all, Romney should not impose his personal views, whether they are religious or other, on the entire nation. What is acceptable to some religions may not be acceptable to other religious denominations. The Supreme Court is here to enforce the United States Constitution and that Constitution applies to both men and women equally. He cannot cherry pick parts of laws that are intended for the benefit of the majority of American society. He cannot subordinate the rights of women to any religious beliefs or views.

But more importantly, no man should be making decisions about what a woman might need or want. There are hundreds and thousands of poor mothers, some single, who rely on the services of places like Planned Parenthood for medical services that are not available for them elsewhere. It was incredible to hear the Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock say that pregnancies that occur was “something that God intended”. I know of no God that would intend for that kind of violence and torment to be brought on any woman and despite Romney’s attempt to distance himself from Mourdock’s Freudian slip, but he obviously shares Mourdock’s views. As a mother of a young woman, I do not support Romney’s position on the issues that affect women, especially poor women.

4 of the judges on the Supreme Court are over the age of 70, so the winner in November will be able to appoint judges that will shape the court for another generation to come. Should Gov. Romney prevail, his appointments could affect a massive transfer of power from the two branches-executive and legislative-the American people elect to the one branch-judicial-that would likely be controlled by Republican-nominated conservative judges for a generation or more. What else is Romney planning to repeal, revisit and revise?


This has to be the issue that will affect the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country. Romney suggested his administration would make it harder for illegal immigrants to get jobs, Romney tells us that he would make their lives so difficult that they would be forced to leave the United States and go elsewhere to seek a better life. He called it “self deportation”. In January, during the Republican Debate in Florida, he said:

“…We’d have a card that indicates who’s here illegally and if people are not able to have a card, and have through an E-Verify system determine that they are here illegally, then they’re going to find they can’t get work here. And if people don’t get work here, they’re going to self-deport to a place where they can get work…”

He said that then people could “get in line at home” and come to the country legally once they “reached the front of the line.”

Is this not racial profiling at its worst? What does an undocumented immigrant look like? Well, he looks like the mechanic that fixes our cars and earns less than his documented counterparts, it is the nanny or housekeeper that cleans the homes of the rich and feeds and nurtures their children so they can go out of their home and earn more money, she is the woman sells hot fresh homemade food to construction workers, so that she can earn a little of money to feed her own, he is the painter, the brick layer, the man that is willing to do any odd jobs to earn enough money to send home to his family, or provide for those who came with him. So is Romney telling us that just because they are undocumented these folks are somehow not welcome to live in the United States?

About “get in line at home”, Romney must know that it is only the educated and skilled that are granted Diversity Visas to come to the United States. The US does not issue visas for those who are seeking to improve their economic life. Visas are issued easily for professional, the educated and trained, “dissidents”, “defectors”, “disgruntled diplomats” and “turn coats”. That is why there are so many economic migrants reaching the shores of the United States illegally.

Romney believes it is okay to staple green cards on their college diplomas for those who have come to the United States for higher education. He is okay with taking doctors, lawyers, scientists out of Africa and offering them jobs in the United States, but not for the poor and needy that are already here. Romney wants an all volunteer force, but when it comes to immigrants, military service will be a prerequisite for legal status. Undocumented immigrants are good enough to serve in the military, but not on main street USA….go figure!


Romney proudly says that his first act, if elected president, will be to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which the Romney camp deride as being the Obamacare. He wants to eliminate health coverage for over 30 million uninsured Americans, young adults who can stay of their parents’ coverage until 26 and for children and adults who are denied coverage due to pre-existing illnesses. Romney also wants to replace the current Medicare system with vouchers which will not keep pace with seniors’ rising health costs and limit future seniors’ health choices.

I know what Mitt Romney is offering. His agenda to Repeal, reverse and replace domestic laws that protect the lives of all Americans, most especially the 47% is not going to move America forward. I fear that if he is elected, he will also go after other civil rights legislation. I fear that he will seek to impose his religious and cultural beliefs on America, a multi cultural society which practices many faiths. His immigration policies are as hostile, as is his foreign policy.

I am not happy with President Barack Obama’s policy for Africa in general and Eritrea in particular. That will probably be the main issue for me in 2012. But I also recognize that US policy for Eritrea spans over 60 years and with both Republican and Democratic Administrations, but does the President. Africa or its challenges are not a new topic for him and no matter what the foreign policy crafters bring to the table, he ought to be able to call a spade a spade and put an end to that racist policy that seeks to deplete Africa of its resources-including vital human resources that are needed for Africa’s own development. If Obama really believes in giving everyone a level playing field, he ought to allow nations to set their own pace for economic and political development. I am one of those that trusted Barack Obama to bring change. He knowingly or unknowingly broke that trust. I also know that I don’t want to vote for Mitt Romney, not even in protest of Barack Obama. Nor will I stay home and not vote. I intend to exercise my right as a woman and as a citizen of the United States. The issues are too important to just leave things to chance.

In 2004 Barack Obama said these words:

“…If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child…If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent…If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties…It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work…It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one…Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes….Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America…”

On 6 November 2012, can I trust him again and have that audacity to hope that he will bring the change that I can believe in?

That is the 64 million dollar question…

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