Tag Archives: white house

Yes we can!

Victory for Obama

It’s happened, and it’s happened emphatically. Victory for Barack Obama, Joe Biden and the Democrats has been not just a landslide, but an avalanche. He needed 270 Electoral College votes, and he’s currently sitting at 349, with some results still left to come in. He took an unprecedented victory in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and Florida. It’s a huge overturning of the Republican majority that has decimated the United States in the last eight years. It’s been a victory for clean, forthright policies over a party willing to smear and be negative. It’s more than simply a victory though. America has elected its first African-American president, something I didn’t think I’d see in the first 50 years of my life.

So, what does it mean? Of course, the sometimes almost messianic feeling that followed the Illinois Senator around is overblown. It can’t be assumed that he will heal his country in four years. He’s inherited a seemingly endless conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a crippling economic crisis which will seriously stymie his ability to push through reforms in healthcare, education, and spend as he’d have wanted when he started the race twelve months ago. But we cannot underestimate the energising of the United States electorate that’s swept him to victory.

On the ground, he had huge financial resources, but also an unwavering support at grass roots level, whose unstinting work ensured a record turnout, and an unprecedented number of votes from young, black, immigrant, working class people that wanted change. And his unwavering belief that change could occur, that the USA could leave its hawkish, warmongering, isolationist agenda behind and reach out to the world in a new era for politics. This marks the end of the old conservative era, that began with Reagan’s terms in the 1980s and culminated in the Neocon-riddled administration of the ‘W’ era. There is fresh and real hope that this is a time for change and one that can be carried through.

Make no mistake, this will be a hugely tough term. And with the Senate looking like it’ll fall just short of the 60 super-majority that would’ve made his ability to change even more strong, Obama’s Democrats will find the road hard fought and trying, but the belief and willingness to change. And like other reformers before him, he’ll need to stamp his authority on the country in his first 100 days, looking to pass some of his most important bills when the momentum is still with him.

What will happen with Iraq? Will 16 months really be realistic to withdraw? I feel that some of his policies will need to be diluted, both to get them voted through, and also in light of the economic downturn that will blight his four years (and hopefully longer) in the Oval Office. And how will he turn round the economy? Will he be able to force more regulation on a Wall Street that has supported him in his presidential reign? If he can count on one thing though, it should be that he’ll have support from the public like no president has seen since the JFK years.

And what of the elephant in the room… will there be an attempt on his life? There are many in the USA that have expressed enough ire to suggest that it may happen. If we are to believe stories in recent weeks, some have already tried. We can only pray that he sees out his term, and will seek and succeed in a second in 2012.

But there is no escaping the resonance of Nov 4th 2008. The day that the USA voted its first black President into office, and the day that, for once, optimism, hope and change became something tangible and realistic in a decision that should change not just the States, but ripple to the rest of the world. We can be hope.

Yes we can.

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The force of change….

Barack Obama

Sitting here in front of news channels and live updates on websites across the world at 1.30am in London, the US Elections are tipping already in the direction of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and the Democrats. A night that’s surely going to capture the imagination of the globe, it appears even at this early stage that history is beckoning. One of the hardest and longest fought battles in US Election history, one that’s seen one side beset with negativity, and the other striving to rise above it, it’s been the choice of old politics v new.

Of course, we can make sweeping statements, generalisations, and lush rhetoric, in tune with Obama’s message of change, but the reality is that he will, if elected, face many challenges, based largely around changing the political machine in the States, and working with a budget that’s been decimated by the wars in Iraq and conflict in Afghanistan, and the Economic slump. But work with it he will, and his election is still an inspiration, being the first African-American to be elected into the Oval Office, something I didn’t think I’d see until well into my second half-century.

I will be going to bed soon, and I will be waking up to a new political dawn, one that can give hope to the millions of disenfranchised Americans (blacks, immigrants, middle class, rich, poor, the list in endless) that have suffered at the hands of the Bush administration and its ultimately disastrous eight-year reign. This, if anything else, will be reason for people, not just in America, but abroad, where a recent poll shows that 87% of those involved would vote for the Illinois Senator, to have hope that America will once again engage as part of the global political system, and not stand above it.

Roll on Wednesday, shaping up to be one of the most important days in my generation’s history.