This week the US Senate and the House of Representatives voted to narrowly pass Obama’s healthcare reform bill without any Republican backing. The bill that finally became law is a far cry from what was originally proposed by Obama, but it is nevertheless a great victory for the man who talked of change and (the audacity of) hope. In the United States, a large percentage of the Republican Party’s supporters are poor people whose interests are not addressed by the Republican Party. By appealing to a mixture of emotions such as homophobia, the spectre of communism etc., the right to carry firearms etc., the Republican Party maintains its grip over its power base. If as a result of this new reform, many millions of poor Americans get better healthcare, will they defect to Obama’s side for the next elections? They just might.
They say that good news comes in threes. Here’s the second good piece of news for Obama. In Iraq, secular challenger Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya coalition has won the most seats in Iraq's parliamentary elections, 2 seats more than incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition of Shia parties. Until now, it appeared as if the US invasion of Iraq had the effect of turning Iraq into a Shia state and an Iranian ally (if not a stooge). Now it seems that there is still hope. Under Saddam Iraq used to be a modern and relatively secular state, though it was under the control of the minority Sunnis and Shias were underprivileged. If the US could hand-over power to a relatively secular Iraqi government, the Iraq invasion will not be classified as an act of lunacy by future generations.
The third piece of good news for Obama is that he has managed to strike a peace deal with Russia for dismantling the nuclear arsenals of each country. There was a time not too long ago (till 1989) when the threat of an annihilating nuclear war hung in the air and peace negotiations between the US and the USSR took priority over everything else. Now a peace treaty between the US and Russia cannot hog the limelight, but it is nevertheless important and is yet another feather in Obama’s cap.