Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Obama

Not superman but for better or worse he is American President

A few final thoughts on the election of Barack Obama, before we start turning to "real life" again:

1) Whatever one thinks of him, he appears to have won a genuine mandate from the majority of American people. This was no "landslide" as some are calling it. At least 52 % to 47 % is not a landslide in my book. You don't have to look far back to find bigger margins in the popular vote. 1996 saw 49 % to 40 % in Clinton against Dole. Nonetheless the margin was sufficient to make all reported cases of local incidents of intimidation and fraud (as I noted yesterday) not relevant to the overall final result.

2) It is a significant milestone to have a black President (in not wishing to totally forget that he happened to have a white mother !). America leads the world in opportunities for its minority groups. A black Democrat president follows on from two black Republican Secretaries of State. This is the culmination of a wider trend. This shows to be a myth the allegation that America is a particularly "racist country". Instead we should reflect that America is unique in having a minority ethnic group leader. It is difficult to see the same happening in other countries with significant minority groups. There is no sign this will happen anytime soon in Brazil, Canada, France, Australia or Britain to name just a few.

3) His biggest obvious strength by a mile is oratory. His other talents are unproven.

4) His policies are vague and tend towards the "redistribution of wealth" rather than the creation of wealth. He has made trade protectionist noises. If these two traits are reflected in the reality of his policy it would be bad news for the American and world economies.

5) His promises to reduce military expenditure are unfortunate in their timing when the world needs a stronger American military more than ever. Which other nation can stand up to oppressors on the continent of Obama's father ?(Congo and Somalia are pressing issues with the latter a base for Islamic militants so presenting security as well as humanitarian concerns). Which other nation can subdue potential threats from Iran,keep the lids on Iraq and Afghanistan and prevent total collapse in Pakistan ? Which other nation can act as a counter weight to a resurgent Russia that today announced it was moving missiles to the Polish border ? Which other country will deter any crazy actions from North Korea under its ailing leader ?
All these issues are threats to people around the world and ultimately to us all. We would do well to think a little more widely before cheering in a leader promising "Change" and not much else.

6) His regime will be strong but not completely unfettered. The Republicans will control over 40 seats in the Senate so may have some chance of delaying or curbing any plans that are too damaging.

7) He has two years to prove himself before America's next major vote in the mid-term elections in 2010.

Finally, he is not the candidate I preferred but this is not the first time I have supported the losing side in an election (I suspect it won't be the last either !). For now he is President Elect of the USA and there is nothing else to do than wish him success and hope he proves his doubters' worst fears wrong. He has two years with an enviably free hand to achieve something great for his country and the world. What he does in that time will prove his real character and motives once and for all.

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