Friday, November 7, 2008

On Obama's win

Clarence B Jones, of all people, put into words what has bugged me most about the US Presidential Campaign. Now I do like Obama, but I think McCain was an equally good candidate (and in some ways better) and I feel like he never got a fair crack at the whip in this election, that he restrained himself against his Democrat opponent because of the racial divide (and of course, even worse, he got tarred with the Bush brush, which given what happened in the 2000 primaries is deeply ironic in the most awful way possible) to the point where at one point he was even defending his opponent in the face of criticism (some say too little too late, but has that EVER happened in a US Presidential election before?).

What Clarence B Jones (Martin Luther King's speechwriter - yeah, I noticed that too) said was that this was a referendum on race. And I do feel like a lot of people saw it that way (including, I suspect, many of the people who voted in it), and if that were the case then the right side definitely won. But it wasn't a referendum on race - it was actually a contest for the most powerful position on Earth, at a time when the financial world is in turmoil, the economy both at home and abroad is slumping and the country is deep in the middle of two very difficult wars. Obama's protectionist policies won't help the economy, his record on the wars is patchy at best, and frankly he has fewer policies than David Cameron (who hasn't even fought an election yet!). I feel resentful about the way he has been almost blindly elevated to the top, no questions asked. There are things to worry about the new President-elect - but his oratory skills, his character, and most definitely his race do not fall into that category.

And actually, the most appalling derivative of the notion that Jones describes is that anyone who voted for John McCain was voting against the idea of a black President. While I'm sure there are some awful people in America to whom black people should be seen and not heard (and for that matter only seen mowing their lawn, licking their shoes and having whips cracked at them), I refuse to believe they constitute the full 48% of the electorate that voted for McCain. In fact looking at the overall number this represents a 6% swing from Republican to Democrat over four years. Does that change really justify the mass hysteria we see at the moment? Is it even a resounding victory for the "referendum on race"?

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