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Barack Obama is president-elect: now what?


November 5, 2008/7.10

Earlier this year, I held out great hope for Sen. amongst attacks from Sen. Hillary Clinton. I felt some of the attacks were . And in a , there was no room for that.
   The same motive saw me pointing out that there were elements about the free ride that the American mainstream media were giving Sen. Obama once he became the candidate for the presidency.
   I have always desired a fair fight, even if I have put my own name forward as a candidate for a political party with firm views.
   Now that Sen. has conceded, and that we can now refer to ‘President-elect Obama’ till Inauguration Day, one might wonder: what now?
   The president-elect has given some hints already in an excellent speech. He sees himself as a uniting figure.
   Just as Sen. McCain’s concession speech was classy and heartfelt, President-elect Obama attempted to reach out. He paid tribute, as did Sen. McCain, to the rival campaign.
   He hinted that the racial barrier had been shattered. He was more specific about his desire to end partisanship, and was specific about wishing to extend a hand in friendship to peace-loving nations.
   The speech of the president-elect included the ‘forgotten’ nations who were listening to his speech over the radio, a recognition that not every nation is as fortunate as the United States in its standard of living.
   In trade-mark fashion, President-elect Obama gave a hopeful .
   His opponents might well seize upon his hand of friendship to foreign nations as troubling, but one would expect that the president-elect may be more pragmatic. He issued a warning to the US’s enemies. He certainly was more centrist in his speech than some might have expected.
   Over the last half-year or more I have been corresponding privately with William Shepherd, a public relations’ expert in California. And I do not think I am revealing any confidences when I say that we both see Sen. Obama’s victory as historical.
   I see this as the beginning of the end of colour being an excuse: all youth, and I do not refer exclusively to , but even those of my own race who are American-born, who perceived a glass ceiling to the presidency can be inspired by his example. Once upon a time, there might have been apathy.
   Certainly there has always been a perception of my own race being apolitical, but one glance at the 2008 General Election’s party lists in New Zealand reveals some east Asian names, and some south Asian ones, too.
   America moved a little closer to being a true democracy today, one that no longer excludes a person from the because of one’s colour. Its next step is to break the gender barrier.
   It has been over a century since President Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House, and even longer since African–Americans gave their lives in the Civil War for a country they loved as much as Caucasian–Americans. A lot of the pain and sacrifice of the Civil War became worthwhile in this election. I hope he will heal as effectively as he has spoken and it is time to build a decent Cabinet.
   While this victory is significant, will he still be as effective years on? Britain elected Tony Blair in 1997 on a promise of change, a major keyword of his campaign, but no real specifics on how to get the job done. And the roots of its financial troubles can be found in the government releasing control over the Bank of England soon after that victory. Blair was a charismatic speaker. But he left office under a cloud.
   I still have a few troubling thoughts over his running-mate, whom I was concerned about even before his selection; and other senior Democrats who have not been that helpful to the president-elect.
   There is still the matter of a lack of over some elements of the Obama– campaign that I have highlighted on my blogs.
   No candidate is perfect. Sen. McCain has flip-flopped on numerous issues during the campaign: his first reaction to the housing crisis was letting laissez-faire economics sort it out. Later he talked about buying up mortgages. Gov. Palin may have had more executive experience, but she confronted more than her fair share of critics and sexism. If there was a McCain victory tonight, there would equally be question marks, but with the obvious difference of true sacrifice for his nation.
   Now is time for President-elect Obama to begin outlining a few more specifics. His cabinet choices will begin showing just how true his promise of change will be. It will be disappointing if he appoints “business as usual” Democrats. He has had some good advisers during the campaign, from many sectors, and it is time to tap into their knowledge.
   I agree with both the president-elect and with Sen. McCain when they asked their supporters to place nation before partisanship. The people have spoken, and America may begin to heal. In the US, the twenty-first century truly started today.

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culture / society / Zeitgeist
Filed by Jack Yan

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