Lyndon Baines Johnson should be President Barack Obama’s new guiding light

Nov 09, 2012

by Bonnie Greer

[originally published on on 11/08/2012]

The margin of victory was small, but the numbers do not tell the real story. This is it: Barack Obama won young Americans; African Americans and Hispanic Americans; white male Americans with postgraduate degrees; Asian Americans. Most important of all, he won American women across the board. Every colour and every class.

This was not a “wave” election like 2008. It was a “base” election. Obama’s base may have looked an awful lot like the 21st century, but his success in motivating it depended on a turn-out machine like no other. As soon as he declared that he was running for a second term, the cry went up in Silicon Valley. Bearded men from California came with their keyboards and sleeping bags to his Chicago headquarters, ready to employ the latest data-mining techniques to unearth each and every last voter. The most brilliant idea – among several – was to stay out of the Washington DC echo chamber, and hunker down instead in the Midwest, in order to watch and listen and see who was out there.

The result was an election in which the Republicans may have had a few good ideas – and the support of more than a few billionaires – but were working with the wrong model. Obama and his team knew from their data that the contest would boil down to their base vs Romney’s, so felt no need, as in 2008, to reach out to a few “Joe The Plumber” types – those white working-class males who have never warmed to the President; nor to white evangelicals; nor the white males without university degrees who get their view of America and the world from Fox News.

Back in Washington, however, the 44th President will not be able to rely on the talents of the 42nd. He will have to turn instead to the 36th – Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson, a protégé of FDR, and a former leader of the Senate, was an absolute master of the Washington game. He knew how to work Congress and the press, how to handle Martin Luther King, how to use the all-important salons of DC, where powerful ladies bring together movers and shakers.  read more