OK so the US elections have concluded and Obama won. The sigh of relief has been heard all over the world with people expressing such joy at his election. I have seen this in emails, conversations, TV, blogs, even facebook statuses and just about every form of media that exists. Obama is being hailed as this messiah that will be the answer to the US’s and the world’s problems. I have not done the research; I have not followed the campaign; I am not into politics; but I will make a few observations from my end and what I see has penetrated my bubble. I know a lot won’t agree and I know a lot will call me cynical, jaded, pessimistic or what have you… but I am not jumping on the Obamarama band wagon.
I really don’t think that Obama is the “be all, end all” solution that the US is looking for. He is now part of a system where he does not have absolute power but answers to another: congress and the senate. At least that is my understanding of how the US works as a democracy. The people vote for a government not just a person. And so the rest of the vote is just as important as this one person. Who gets elected into government as a collective system is much more important that just its one representative. Which is why the results of more democrats in congress and the senate is more significant an indicator than just the Obama win.
This brings me to my next point, how much of this election was based on voting for one person or voting for all those issues on the ballots and for the seats in the house? This election was not just about voting in a president but also about congress, about laws, about issues in each state and making them or breaking them. The amount of work and the awareness that had to be raised for people to really mobilize and understand that they do make a difference is much more significant to me in so many ways. The amount of money it took to get people to go vote and make their voices heard it is phenomenal. That is how apathetic Americans are today, you need to spend millions and millions of dollars to get a person to move off their ass and into the voting booth. This may be a sweeping generalization but it looks like Americans who live in the epitome of democracy needed to be taught that their voices count, their opinions do effect change and that a democracy doesn’t work without the people!
I also wonder and would love to see any research or any polls as to how many people voted against McCain (or even Palin) rather than for Obama? The difference is not subtle and is in fact essential to understanding what happened in this election. Does the rhetoric work? Did the campaign of hope really create hope, a hope that the US desperately needs? Or are people just not wanting more of the same last eight years and so anything will do? Is America really ready for change or is this just their best choice?
I honestly think this is not an election of foreign policy or what Obama will do to or even for the world but rather on homeland issues right in the backyards of the American people. Looking at America today and the recession it is in and all the issues its people are dealing with and the topics that the candidates had take stands on there is no way this vote was in consideration of the rest of the world. It was only in consideration of The US and the cities, and States within it. Foreign policy may have been something that was considered but it was not the essence of the campaigns and so for the rest of the world to be hailing it as this massive celebration perplexes me!
I am not sure what the next four years hold. I don’t really see much change in how the US views itself and how it views its place with the rest of the world. There will be no change there I think and that means there will be no change in policy, just a delay of the inevitable. This change can only happen when the peoples of America truly learn to look outside their windows and not point out Russia, but visit it, study it, understand it and respect it!
Looking around me and seeing Americans chanting “yes we can” every chance they get, patting themselves on their back, and being smug and self congratulatory is grating on my nerves at this point. I smile and say mabrook (congratulations), but really people it took you long enough! It’s about time they took responsibility for who they put in office, it’s about time they paid attention, it’s about time they went out and voted. For a country that proposes to teach democracy education to the rest of the world their track record of bullying, waging war, human rights abuses, ignorance, and condescension to the rest of the world is no example to set. And my hope is that the slogan “yes we can” is one of responsibility and accountability not just to themselves but to the rest of the world, which is watching, and not the response of yet another bully in power!
I am not a pessimist by nature, I want to believe that this is the catalyst that will start to shift the world to a better place with more understanding, with more respect, with more exchange, with more listening; A place with less anger, less frustration, less bullying, less fighting. But I will wait and see. He is only now forming his team and so far does not signal change!