Lost Opportunities – Obama and JYT

Obama wins in 2012

US ELECTIONS – OBAMA and his missed opportunity in the first term: What about DPT and JYT?

In the heat of the battle, whether he wins or loses, the following point must be made. It bears striking resemblance to the circumstances in Bhutan. Bhutanomics shall explain.

Obama came to the presidency on a wave of “hope” he likes to say. The reality is that he came as the timely representative to take a new USA forward. The new USA was one of increasingly varied ethnicity and origins with Hispanics and Blacks each now numbering in the double figures as a percentage of the population. It is also a USA of modernity with less focus on US heritage and religion and more on education, economy, peaceful engagement with the world, rights activism and the desire to have strong moral authority in imparting these values to the rest of the world (as opposed to the hawkish mentality of imposing them). Who better than a first Black president to take the new USA forward? Not because he was the most talented, skilled or equipped. He rose from obscurity in the few years before the election. He was the right symbol of the ambitions of the people of the USA at the right time. He was not supposed to singlehandedly change everything. He was supposed to be the symbol of the new hopes of the people and the new direction of the nation.

Yet, upon becoming President, Obama became “any other president” (he did not attempt to become a Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Wilson or Washington.) Some eras call for special Presidents. Some for Presidents to just do their day to day work. Obama came at a time when the US president was to re-shape the thoughts, way of life, and culture of the world’s superpower; at a time when the USA’s relations with the rest of the world had to be redefined and the scourge of anti-US and anti-west terror had to be addressed in a humble and thoughtful manner; at a time when the economic inequalities and difficulties of less fortunate countries had to be addressed fairly and urgently…, so many such USA and world defining issues. Yet what did Obama do? Nothing out of the day to day. Stuck in partisan debates most of the time. He did not use his larger than life image to travel the world and spread a message and endeavor of hope and cooperation. He spent his time fighting Bush’s old battles. Above all, he jogged onto stages, jogged off stages, jogged down airplane steps, jogged up airplane steps and given any few metres of space, he jogged usually in white shirt with rolled up sleeves. He acted the part of an NBA player running onto the court to wild cheers. He would high five a few people, shake hands here and there and then move to the podium. What happens on the podium is hailed as “good speaking”. But the reality is, any person can tell…, look right to teleprompter, middle to teleprompter, left to teleprompter. Just act emotional but read. The last election he kept saying “Hope” and “Change”. This election whenever he is lost he says “We are going forward to the future, not back to the past.” I don’t know which part of that sentence is redundant! And what it actually means in terms of real action. Obama entered the President’s office not on merit, but on the dreams of the people who sought a new USA. Being young, African American and modern, he became the symbol. How sad that from the symbol of hope he became the continuation of the mundane. His crime is not in his inability to rise to the occasion. He just showed us he is normal, not the superstar the Americans made him out to be. However, his crime is that when the young, the hopeful and inspired Americans looked to him, he did not lead. As the world’s unequal nations, the countries racked by violence and those suffering the effects of terrorism waged because of perceived unfairness of US interests around the world, those hoping for more from the global economy all looked to the new USA led by a black president, he did not even show up. He was a black “white” president. Nothing new. That is the crime. The people of the US and the world have been made to come to terms with a sad reality …. that it is not worth hoping and dreaming of a better world. You can elect a black president in a predominantly white nation as a symbol of yearning for hope and change. In the end, it means nothing.

In Bhutan, talk about eras, this was a moment in history. A moment that would shine out of history books forever. Democracy being introduced. That was historic. Introduced by the king. That was unprecedented. Well planned and peaceful transition. This was world history. If any moment called for idealism, hope, integrity, uniqueness, sacrifice, nation before self and so on, this was it. All DPT had to do was to do exactly the opposite of the political parties and politicians of the failed democracies around us. Put country first, put unity and harmony first, put equality first, put hard work first, put humility first, put sacrifice first. For example, DPT should have said, lets figure out how to redistribute the wealth of the country faster and better to the rural people, instead of saying lets give ourselves patangs and high salaries and cars, etc. Such simple acts of selfishness and thoughtlessness killed the hopes of the people. From a unique, unprecedented transition to democracy, within months we were where Nepal and Bangladesh and some African failing states were. From a Bhutan that floated in the sky with an unprecedented 100 year monarchy (elected by the people) returning powers to the people, we were suddenly dropped into the dirt of a regular, selfish, divisive democracy by those elected to carry the dream forward. Elected because they had been a part of the journey of the fourth King, not because of merit.

Now GNH a philosophy that was created in the heavens of the mind of a King, is fast becoming a territorial property of the PM and few people, reduced to simple jargon and NGO status. Not the nation altering, epoch defining, heavenly blessings on a unique people and nation.

So whether Obama wins or loses, whether DPT wins or loses – the USA and Bhutan have lost opportunities that come once in a hundred years.

Palden Drukpa
This story from Palden Drukpa

Palden Drukpa is disgusted by this democracy farce in our beloved Bhutan. Palden Drukpa Gyelo!!!


  1. The last para is the best. very good assessment

  2. achophento says:

    Regardless of who is in power, democracy will always be divisive. It is the “tyranny of the majority”. There is a winning party and sore losers whose job is to check and balance but most often it is to bring down the ruling govt at every possible opportunity. This is clear from everywhere, but i think we should have known that just from our village politics.

    In comparing Obama and the US, they are the oldest democracy but I don’t think they are the best model to emulate either. They will say the system is not perfect but the best out there!.. However, money and corporate influence is so entrenched (more money was spent on the US elections than the GDP of some countries), and the machinery caters to this that you would think there were only two Parties and only two Presidential candidates in the US elections. They say only the parties with chances get the voice in the media, but it is only the parties with the money that get the voice. So ultimately policies are determined by money interests.

    Bringing the lesson back to Bhutan and the Bhutanomics article. The pay, prado and patangs were inevitable for ANY govt that formed the first democratically elected govt – it had to be done as part of the first order of business of setting up and approving the institutions (remember that the constitution was signed by these people as part of this process along with other Acts related to governance). This is nothing to crib about and I don’t disagree with pay or the allowances which is comparable to EX levels in the bureaucracy. Why i say this is that if we don’t have a decent pay for parliamentarians, we will only get independently wealthy people standing for election… or those with strong financial backing… and that is definitely not good. Re the the CDG that is definitely out of line as it is DIRECT funding of politicians by an external agent (big brother).

    More serious is this. We had a unique opportunity with the near absolute majority of the party in the NA and the collective experience and wisdom of the core of the DPT from having served so long with range of roles from a young age. It had the opportunity to do some good and strengthen the institutions for democracy. I had hope, but now i’m disillusioned. The way rules and law of the land is being ignored to suit the whims of the party is not good. This is not good for building the institutions for democracy.
    Some of the examples:

    … the opposition’s case against the govt in the supreme court on taxes
    … the attempt to rewrite the Land Act the way it did
    … the story on pushing through populist pet projects without regard for other existing institutions like environmental laws (http://bhutanomics.com/2012/bhutan-environmental-disaster/)
    … they way it handles our aspiring but naive and immature media.

    However, I’m not sure if any of the future governments will be any better. the hard decisions that will be necessary for society will never be made. As I said in the beginning, democracy is divisive and there will always be opposition from varying interests.. we are heading down the populist path and interference from inside and outside interests is inevitable in whatever form it comes.

  3. I agree with the author here, President Obama had to rise above normalcy and do the unthinkable, he had to live up to the voters’ expectations. The voters wanted change and Obama failed to provide that change. He became any other normal US President. Even now, he claims, “the best is yet to come”.
    Result: Back to where we started

    In JYT and Bhutan’s case, everything was smooth, up and running even before 2008. We needed a normal PM who will carry our great nation forward but instead we got a PM who was far too ambitious for our liking. We got a PM who is corrupt, power hungry and far too adventurous (pursuing unrealistic goals for Bhutan).
    Result: Scams, Crises, Inflation, Income disparity

  4. I preface by saying, ‘With all due respect’, in the most sarcastic way the reader can imagine.
    Yes Obama represented hope and change but that was not who he is, youth and liberalism is a part of the democrats idea. Reading through the article, I somehow got the feeling that author is some one who does not want the leftists’ ideas of a government but still is a little unready for the liberal ideas of democracy. Obama had to spend the first term doing what he did because of the condition he came to rule in. The Bush administration had voted to put 2 wars on the credit cards of the Americans. Obama’s first order of business was to clear that out. And yes he took his time (4 Years) but that only goes to show how difficult the times were. I mean, the 2009 depression was worse than the great depression and with more people to give snide looks and comments, like yourself. The next order of business was to make peace with the other countries who had begun to think of the US as a bully, wrongly I might add. Now look, even the Chinese wanted Obama to win. Yes Obama and the US is heading for a fiscal cliff and I believe, he will overcome that as well.
    Now on to our PM, I couldn’t agree any more. He is a nice man, a visionary but when he came into power, he didn’t have any challenges to overcome. Instead him and his administration drove us into this Rupee Crisis. Their first parliament meeting, if I am not mistaken, was spent in talking about their own benefits and stuff. This govt. is the most inept and corrupt since well, Roman times when the senators killed Caesar. But the worse problem is that, even if you do tell them what they’re doing wrong, they’ll nod and say yes but they remain indifferent. Coming election, the govt. will not be reelected. But don’t worry, they won’t know broke, they have scammed a lot of land and tax payers’ money for that!