I have refrained from posting about the US election on my blog because I felt like once I started it might be difficult to stop. I have been following the candidates and the election very closely and despite its length, never really tired of it. I guess it was because there was just so much at stake. No matter what happened or who was elected, this was never going to be just another presidential election. There was a vibe, a general sense of breath holding, that guaranteed that America would be fundamentally affected or even changed by what happened on November 4th.
I am so happy that Obama won. I watched his victory speech this morning and cried. I watched Americans in the streets and at the rallies and I felt connected to them for the first time in a long time. The speech was incredible and moving and full of promise. I felt hopeful for the future of the US and I have to say, I haven't felt that way for a long time either.
I was never anti-McCain. I think as far as Republican candidates go he wasn't that bad. Any support he may have had from me went out the window when he chose Palin however. Having said that - I like her. If I got stranded in Alaska I would love to have a beer with her. Hang out, shoot the shit. But I do not think she would be a good vice-president. Hell, I'm surprised she's even a Governor. McCain represented the status quo. Not necessarily in that he would be an extension of the Bush regime but that he was an old white guy with old white guy ideas. America has been going in the wrong direction for quite a long time and it needs someone with a radical sense of purpose and a strong moral compass. Obama will get shit done.
While it is not a good reason to vote for him, you cannot ignore the deep psychological impact Obama's victory will have on the African American population. When I think of the struggles the blacks have endured over the last two hundred years in the States and the crippling effect of slavery and racism I cannot even begin to imagine the renewed sense of emancipation this must have. How strong and free and hopeful they must feel. It really does feel like a new day - a new opportunity to set things right.
I have heard the term "the Canadianization of America" a few times now in reference to Obama (I'm sure this term is not being bandied about south of the border) and I suppose in some ways it is true. Obama's approach to taxes, energy and health care are all very Canadian in style. I guess after watching the most recent economic crisis from a comparably stable market (made so partly by government regulation and restrictions) I can't help but feel like that might not be a bad thing. Canadians would have voted for Obama overwhelmingly - a statistic which is also true for most of the world. The only polled countries who would have elected McCain were Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Republic of Georgia. In fact, the only country where it was even close was the United States. What does it say that the rest of the world is celebrating today along with America? People in London, Paris, Asia, Africa, Canada, India and South America are celebrating. I can't help but feel like America fell behind over the last few years. That the rest of the world moved forward and grew and is now cheering the US on as it stands up, brushes itself off and reclaims its position as leader, enforcer of freedom, civil rights and equality. The world wants the US to be great again.
I will admit that it may not be his policies that got Obama elected (though I personally don't take issue with any of them really). Maybe it is a backlash against Bush, maybe it's the hype or the possibility of change. But to me, it doesn't really matter. This is a new day and a new leader with a strong vision. After years of scare tactics, fear mongering and heavy, pervasive ignorance, some hope might be just what the United States, and the rest of the world, needs.