The Star (Nairobi)

8 November 2012

Kenya: Ethnicity Can Also Be Issues-Based

editorial

PRESIDENT Barrack Obama won the US presidential election, much to the relief of most Kenyans. Interestingly there was a strong ethnic dimension to the voting.

Obviously Obama enjoyed huge support among African Americans but his support was about 66 per cent among Hispanics, the fastest growing ethnic group in the USA with 24 million registered voters.

Conversely, Obama's support among white men fell from 41 per cent in 2008 to 36 per cent. If only the whites had voted, Mitt Romney would have become president.

This might lead us to conclude that the United States is tribally divided like Kenya. In fact, American politics is still fundamentally issues-based.

The Hispanics preferred Obama's stance on immigration reform, especially after Romney said he wanted illegal immigrants to 'self-deport'.

White males suffered disproportionately from the economic recession in the past four years as manufacturing jobs were transferred overseas. They thought Romney would do managing the economy.

Women in general preferred Obama because they thought he was more progressive on social issues than Romney. The Kenyan election is shaping up now on primarily ethnic lines.

But one day, without doubt, Kenya will become more like the USA. Politics will become issues-based, even if there is an associated ethnic dimension.

Quote of the day: "If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California on November 8, 1966

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