I was biting back the tears during Barack Obama’s victory speech as president-elect of the U.S. There was so much at stake in this election. Without trying to overstate and get carried away, we can still safely say that its probably been the most significant election, ever, in the history of the world. This is a big event that will stand out in history.
It’s a campaign of so many firsts, and that is why so many people across the world are so excited — as there is a feeling that there is genuine change in Obama, and that therefore there will be genuine change.
It’s the first African American to become president. It’s a person elected from a minority grouping in a country to be its leader. It’s a blow to cynicism and a blow to racism. It’s a victory for common-sense and multi-racialism. It perhaps shows that the world is making steps in the right direction to shaking off the racial baggage of the past. It’s refreshing and invigorating.
It’s a victory for possibility and striving against the odds. It’s a victory for democracy not only in the US, but for the world. It’s an example for the world to follow, particularly countries that have dubious democratic credentials or are trying to carve a democratic path. It also shows that the U.S. truly does have a political system that many in the world should follow, a system that can correct itself and a system that can produce a leader such as Obama.
It’s also been the most sophisticated political internet campaign ever, which saw the most sophisticated political online social network ever built (with the help of Facebook founder Chris Hughes). It will be a model studied by political parties all around the world for years to come.
I have the sense that respect, decency and common-sense will be injected back into world politics. The US can conduct its foreign policy with renewed moral authority, and unlike before, more will listen and more will follow. It means the US will be in a powerful position to really push for positive change around the world — and take the lead and be decisive in dealing with rogue, corrupt, abusive states like Zimbabwe.
It feels like a victory for the people and a victory for honesty, morality and idealism. It’s a defeat for the narrow self-interest, the hyper-individualism, commercial oil interests and narrow business elite that so symbolised the Bush/Cheney administration, and to some extent the Republican Party. (I think the Republicans are going to self reflect after these elections and perhaps emerge a different, revamped party in years to come. I ended up liking John McCain. I felt that he was honest, self-deprecating and down-to-earth. It was a case of the right man, at the wrong time, with the wrong party.)
The cynics will say I’m an idealist and that this is, and will be, just politics as usual. They will say power-drunk politicians throughout time and throughout the world inevitably all behave the same way. That is why there is so much cynicism and why politicians have such bad reputations today in our modern society. I disagree. I think this time it’s different. I think the cynics are wrong.
Sizes of states are rescaled according to their population. That is, states are drawn with size proportional not to their acreage but to the number of their inhabitants. (Source)