It’s hard not to get swept up in the incredible wave of Obama mania which is whipping up people from seemingly every part of the world, and notably for me, those who fall roughly into the Liberal/post evangelical Christian bracket (into which I too more or less fall).
I always wanted Obama to win the election, lets be honest, McCain had nothing to offer, and Palin didnt know that Africa isnt a country. More than that, I wanted the change that Obama will bring, and I didnt dare believe for a long time that America would dare elect a black president. I think I knew Obama would win as soon as Palin turned up, nobody gets in with a vice president who is a bigger personality than themselves. (Aint that right Joe Biden?)
But despite my support for Obama, I am finding the incredible prophecies of future change somewhat overblown.
I just read Jim Wallis’ analysis: “A fundamental shift is taking place in America, and we saw the evidence on Nov. 4th. It is a political shift, a cultural and racial shift, a generational shift, and a religious shift.” Ok, I can accept that there is a shift going on, but NOT necessarily that Obama is evidence of it.
Lest we forget, there was always going to be a lot of people voting Democrat, and a lot of people voting Republican too, that didnt change. Also, before we go claiming that somehow America suddenly transcended its past love for ignorant tyrants and got swept up in a new love for the environment, the world and each other, lets accept that there were a number of other factors which influenced the Obama win.
First there was the incumbent president, surely the most unpopular man in the world – except perhaps for Osama Bin Laden, although even he’s got friends. A vote for McCain translated for many as a vote of support for Bush – and an acceptance of his policies and now all to evident failings.
Then there was the financial crisis – McCain handled it badly, looking indecisive and unable to cope. Obama handled it presidentially, he looked in control. There is a general feeling that the Bush administration spent recklessly during the boom years, (which they did) and I am sure that many feel a new broom is what is needed to sort out the mess. McCain isnt a new broom – for goodness sake he’s named after a type of oven chip…
Then there was Sarah Palin, or Alaska Barbie, (you’d have been better off asking a barbie in some cases) or whatever she’s called. Surely someone should have told McCain what she was like? The republicans really shot themselves in the foot with their naked attempt to cash in on the whole Hilary v Obama thing, with a gun totin baby kissin, bible thumpin frontier mom with a taste for designer eye wear. (Look y’all, we’ve got women too!!) Unfortunately she turned out to be stubborn and pretty dim – refusing to prepare for difficult interviews and then making herself look like a wally. By the end everyone was just prank calling her, and sticking ‘kick me’ signs on her back.
Then there’s Obama’s persona, silver tongued, a great orator, able to squeeze a tear from even the most cynical hack with his talk of puppies, candifloss, pieces of string and butterflies, a background of being a good guy, a picteuresque family, a serious manner (although prone to the occasional slip up himself). His lack of experience is perhaps seen as a good thing, no baggage you see.
I groan inwardly when I hear people talk of ‘real change’ coming in America – because what does that mean? Will the financial crisis end? No – not for a long time, and when it does we’ll be in for more of the same, we wont be in some sort of socialist utopia. Will America stop going to war with people? Unlikely, Clinton turned out to be just as much of a warmonger as Bush dont forget, and I dont remember Obama claiming to be a pacifist. Exactly what great change are people expecting? I dont see it!
He’s a good guy, who wil govern well (I hope) in a difficult climate, and hopefully will not start any more wars – if only because they havent enough troops left. But he aint going to suddenly start redistributing wealth all over the place, he isnt going to bring a load of homeless people into the white house and let them stay for a while til they’re ‘on their feet’. He might let his girls have a puppy (I would too, its not like he’ll have to scoop the poop himself, he’ll have suited and sunglassed poop scoopers aplenty to call on.)
He isnt likely to plug the gap in the ozone, or even make a truly significant impact on the carbon emmisions of the US – not without convincing the powerful commercial interests which really run America that this is a way they can make more money.
Obama is not Jesus, he is not going to transform the world – please would people stop going gooey and teary eyed about it. Great, there’s a black guy in the White house! Guess, what, they’ve been letting black people in there for a while now! And that’s another thing, I am getting confused by people saying that race is not an issue, and then going on about how great it is there is a black president. Which one am I supposed to agree with?
Grrr, I’m starting to get cross now, I’ve worked myself up into a frenzy, I’m my own Jonathon Ross to my inner Russell Brand, I’ll start saying wild and ridiculous things, and then issuing pseudo apologies – I shan’t resign though.
Anyway, all I really want to say is that I’m truly pleased Obama won that election, but lets not get it all out of proportion, he is just another politician, bound by the ties which bind all politicians. He isnt Hiro Nakamura or even Peter Petrelli, he wont be saving the world (even though he did save us from the cheer leader).
When you build a man up to the kind of messiah like status which Obama now occupies for some, there is a terrible disappointment when it all ends in tears. What is needed now are strong voices which will call him to account, hold him to his principles, encourage him to take the hard decisions.
Oh yeah, and lets put Bush into Guantanamo – if I was on facebook, which I aint and never will be (dont get me started) I would start one of these facebook groups which I’ve only ever heard of – mine would be ‘put Bush in Guantanamo’.
Ah well, glad to have got that off my chest. Ahem.
p.s. Hey Mr Obama, if you happen to read this, I really do think you’re a good guy, and I would have voted for you if a) I was American and b) I thought voting was a good thing.