Barack to the future!

November 5th, 2008

‘Scuse the dodgy pun, but the news headlines are so full of them today I feel entitled to let my own authorial standards slip a notch. And why not? It’s symptomatic of the relaxed relief that buoys the air today following the election of Barack Obama as American President. The interweb and bloggersphere is awash with euphoria and congratulations, so I might as well pitch in my oar.

And sure, I hear he’s Irish anyway 🙂

The big excitment stateside seems to stem from the fact that he is the first black President. To someone like me, from the other side of the pond, his colour or race was never an issue. But the outpouring from the African-American community last night reminds me how much of a big issue race is over in the States. When I heard the black vox-pop on the news saying things like “we’ve taken over the White House”, and “we’re running this show now,” it only proves how frighteningly close to the surface racial tensions simmer. I can understand why Obama distanced himself from using the black ticket in his campaign, choosing instead to colour his campaign in a more ameloriating and unifying mixed-race hue (oops, there goes the pun again).

But I am glad for the African-American community today. They have had a brutal history and deserve their day in the sun and the glory of a President who reflects their heritage. I wish them all the best that it brings.

For me, the joy and relief I feel is nothing to do with the colour of the man’s skin. Part of me didn’t really care whether Obama or McCain won. Either victor could have heralded a new era free from the reign of the awful George W. Bush/Dick Cheney. What pleases me about the result is that the Republicans have been ousted. Even if McCain had won it, I would have had this niggling fear that — despite his experience — the old Republication Bush machinery might still have been running somewhere, influencing the new inhabitant of 1600 Pennsyvania Avenue.

That the Republicans could have forwarded George W. Bush as a candidate in 2000 forever diminished them in my view. I was amazed, and disappointed, at the American people for voting him in, and there has always been a question mark over his legitimacy as President since that fateful day in Florida in 2000. What amazed and disappointed me even more and what I will never understand is why dubya was voted in for a second term. I’m sure fear played a big part in it, but I lost some esteem for American citizens that day in 2004 when they didn’t display the courage to kick that disasterous administration out of the White House. The financial catastrophe of the last few months mightn’t have been so bad for them, and for all of us, if they could have shown yesterday’s courage earlier, back in 2004.

The redemptive vote they took yesterday might just wipe out that mistake — although Obama will have his work cut out for him. (Thanks W.)

Let’s hope the Democrats, under Barack Obama, can re-build America and even re-invigorate the world. Hope is a wonderful thing.

Barack to the future!

Entry Filed under: Politics,World Affairs

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