(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) THE PEOPLE of the US have spoken. Barack Obama is back at the White House.
It's the second time in several decades that a Democrat has won a second term in what has been a tightly-fought battle between him and Mitt Romney, a battle that deeply divided the nation, a battle that was one of the costliest in the history of the country and a battle that had gone on far too long.
At this time, four years ago, the global economy was collapsing like a house of cards and Obama rode in on a wave of hope and change. Four years on, that hope and faith in Obama remain despite a bruised economy, despite the country holding a 1 trillion annual deficit and a 16 trillion national debt despite a gridlocked US Congress.
His victory was a victory of hope over the harsh realities that most Americans - pushed to the wall from losing their jobs and their savings - have faced in the last four years.
In 2008, Obama fought the election on just one plank: Change. He did bring about change for the most part, but found his hands tied on any number of counts, weighed down by a ruthless opposition that shot down his reform agenda.
The task ahead is a daunting one and the same problems that dogged Obama in his first term are still there to confront him again. His victory will set the country's course for the next four years on spending, taxes, healthcare, the role of government and foreign policy challenges such as the rise of China and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Obama has had the toughest last couple of years when even his most ardent supporters deserted him, disillusioned by a bleeding economy, inflation and joblessness. It can't have been easy for the man from the wrong side of town, with the wrong lineage and the wrong colour of skin, to get so far in a country that's mostly been ruled by the rich. But he dug in his heels, refused to buckle or give in to slander. And held on to his dreams for his country.
Minorities, women and the poor can now hope for a more sensitive handling of their problems by a president who has consistently said that his is a country of vast inequities where the rich get richer, while the poor are left to fend for themselves.
Obama's victory ensures that the health reform law- the signature accomplishment of his first term - will move forward. Throughout the campaign, Governor Mitt Romney vowed to repeal and replace the law if he became president. The law, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will, for the first time, guarantee all Americans access to health insurance starting in 2014.
How will this victory affect countries such as India and China who he occasionally targeted on the election trail, blaming IT companies in those markets for taking away American jobs? Obama will, it's hoped, learn to strike the right balance about blaming the world for his country's problems. India probably runs the most back offices of his country's income generating firms and he should learn to respect that. Ditto for China.
His re-election has been widely welcomed, as there will be continuity in the policies of the US administration. Had Mitt Romney won, it would have derailed many of the delicate equations between the US and other emerging and established powers.
A Republican at the White House would have been perceived as a more hostile president especially by countries like China, Russia and Venezuela. Leaders in crisis-ridden Europe would also have found it difficult to deal with Romney and convince him of the need to be more understanding towards the needs of nations like Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.
China would, undoubtedly, have faced a lot more criticism from a Republican administration, which would have harangued it over its alleged human rights abuses, unfair trade practices and the continued distortion in its currency.
In the Middle East, where many countries including Iraq have still to emerge from the devastation wrought by a previous Republican administration headed by George Bush, Obama's return means four more years of hopefully stable US policies.
Ultimately, many leaders around the world expect Obama to continue with a gentler and more understanding relationship with the global community at large, especially now that the elections are over and he does not have to play to the domestic gallery.
It's good to see that in a battle that was fought so viciously, on the back of mega funding by the biggies of Wall Street who did their best to keep Obama out of the race, the best man still did win.