amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

i want to

be happy about this Obama win, i really do, and i am but ... not without some reservations. i am a bit leery about how people in the States and all over the world seem to be putting the man on a pedestal. i know it’s bad to be cynical, but when i’ve listened to O’s speeches, i’ve heard a lot of rah rah rah and hip hoorays and home spun metaphors, but nothing of particular substance. people tell me the man is great orator, and firing up the people is a wonderful thing, helps to motivate and yet...

while many Americans see Obama’s election as hopeful, I can’t help but look at some of the other aspects of this election, the anti-same sex ballot, for example. Californians have limited marriage to heterosexual couples only and it looks like other States will go that way too. I can't help but see this as backward rather than progress.

Luckily anti-abortion ballots didn’t win and another State will now allow terminally ill people the option of physically assisted suicide.

So yes, there’s hope that Americans have compassion and feel a need to turn their nation around. That a young African American was elected as President, that the turnout was 64% of eligible voters, that’s great, that’s one of the reasons why America has always been such a great country, because dreams can and do come true. The dream that anyone can become president, despite the obstacles is a reality.

Yet there’s a long way to go and when I listen to Obama’s rhetoric, i’m not particularly sure that much can change for a long time and also while McCain did a very good job at trying to repair the damage done during the campaign with a gracious speech, I know that there are many Americans who are not happy with Obama’s win and particularly Republicans. I still remember when Clinton and Carter were presidents. The Republicans did everything in their power to get them out of the White House and they succeeded.

Furthermore I get queasy when I hear all this “God bless America” stuff. There’s something that reminds me of the divine right of kings, of empires and war. There’s something that makes me feel the holy war between Christians and Muslims will never end if America continues to drag religion into government. There’s something that makes me heartsick about a country that claims electing an African American man for the first time shows that they are overcoming oppression when they can’t accept the idea of basic rights, such as marriage for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.

I should be like everyone else. I should be celebrating. I should feel hope. And I do I feel a little hope, but that hope is tempered by a worry that putting this man on a pedestal and accepting everything he says as gospel is just as dangerous as when so many Americans acted that way about Bush after 9/11, letting their fears allow them to have their rights and freedoms taken away.

it troubles me that i can't just jump on the Obama bandwagon and swallow everything that a politician says wholeheartedly, but i'm not like that. i don't trust politicians easily. years of broken promises and manipulations by politicians here and in the States have made me dubious, I admit. I'm still glad that Obama won and turfed out the Republicans, i just want to urge people not to be too naive, not to be too trusting. to continue to question and at the same time to work together to create a better world.


Jonathan Penton said...

Obviously, the success of California Prop 8 is deeply upsetting. But otherwise...

My joy is not based on hope. A week ago, one could find half-a-dozen videos on YouTube in which a person said, "I have A FRIEND who talks about killing Obama if he gets elected." It would be foolish to say with conviction that Obama will be the next US President, however much we might want him to be. And it would be insane, as you point out, to put our trust for the future in one man, especially one who has successfully navigated a presidential campaign, the very purpose of which is to weed out those who will enforce real economic change.

I am joyful because the change has already happened. It is not wrong to desire prosperity for oneself. Unfortunately, humans, Americans and otherwise, are well-documented as suffering from the belief that the ticket to prosperity is preventing OTHERS from achieving prosperity. World "capitalism" and economic "liberalism" are entirely dependent on this assumption.

Yet on November 4th, America and its white majority chose to reject one of the cornerstones of that assumption: racism. White and "Hispanic" Americans went to the polls and overwhelmingly expressed the belief that they could achieve greater prosperity with the leadership of our nation's most notorious "other:" a black male with immediate African roots.

That is what I'm celebrating. It's the only thing I'm celebrating. And it's the best thing to happen in American politics in my thirty-three years.

Amanda said...

i hear you and i agree with you. that is definitely a beautiful thing.

Pearl said...

Yes, it is like Trudeaumania. I feel leery of the whole thing. This blogger gave more earthy practical reasons why the orator won: